Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema has said that his government would ask parliament to consider abolishing the death penalty.
In a speech delivered on the eve of Africa Freedom Day Wednesday, Hichilema said, “We will work with parliament to run this process as we transition away from the death penalty and focus on the preservation, and rehabilitation of life while still delivering justice for all.” Also Tuesday, the president announced the pardon of 2,045 inmates and commuted the sentences of 607 other prisoners.
While no death sentence has been carried out for more than 20 years, the death penalty remains part of the criminal penal laws in Zambia. Hichilema’s pledge was welcomed by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for human rights, which stated its readiness to assist Zambian authorities in making the promise a reality.
Zambia’s steps to abolish the death penalty come after the supreme court of Malawi last year handed down a judgment in which the justices declared the death penalty unconstitutional. However, in a “perfected ” opinion, the court later reversed this position.