President Hakainde Hichilema of Zambia amending the law on the death penalty. President Hakainde Hichilema of Zambia amending the law on the death penalty. 

The community of Sant'Egidio commends Zambian president for abolishing the death penalty.

The Community of Sant'Egidio has expressed great satisfaction with the decision by President Hakainde Hichilema of the Republic of Zambia to abolish the death penalty.

Paul Samasumo – Vatican City.

Signing the legislation, two days before Christmas day, Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema said that the abolition was a fulfilment of his campaign promise to amend laws that inhibit the growth of democracy, good governance, and human rights in Zambia.

"Fellow Zambians, during our campaigns for the presidency, we promised to amend all laws that inhibit the growth of democracy and good governance, impede human rights and basic freedoms. Today we have delivered," said Hichilema.

Sant'Egidio on the abolition

The abolition of the death penalty is among the key areas of global engagement by one of the Catholic Church's most influential movements lead by lay people – the Community of Sant'Egidio. The organisation is dedicated to evangelisation, social justice and charity in more than 70 countries worldwide.

In a statement, Sant'Egidio expressed satisfaction with developments in Zambia and said in 2011 and 2018, delegations from Sant'Egidio travelled to Zambia to meet with state officials and other actors as part of the abolitionist campaign. It said the abolition of the death penalty in Zambia was a step forward for Africa to become a capital punishment-free continent.

Law Association of Zambia

The Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) also praised President Hakainde Hichilema for abolishing the death penalty. OHCHR, the lead United Nations entity mandated to promote and protect human rights, also joined in praising Zambia for the abolition.

Amnesty International said the announcement by President Hichilema was a good and progressive move that shows the country's commitment to protecting the right to life.

Abolition in practice

In effect, Zambia has been abolitionist in practice since 1997. Although the country's courts continued to pass the death sentence, no Zambian President has issued a death warrant in the last 25 years.

Last Friday, Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema codified into law the abolition by assenting to the Penal Code (Amendment) Bill 2022 abolishing the death penalty in Zambia.

Death penalty for the poor

The intersection between the death penalty, racism, economic inequality, and poverty is stark. Zambian national Kafumu Kalyalya writing under the Southern African Institute for Policy and Research, has previously said that there has been increasing recognition among the international community that the death penalty primarily affects those with fewer economic means. The poorest in society are less likely to be able to afford a lawyer and, in turn, enjoy their right to effective representation or even appeal. Therefore, it is no surprise that individuals currently on death row worldwide are overwhelmingly from poor backgrounds.

Thank you for reading our article. You can keep up-to-date by subscribing to our daily newsletter. Just click here

27 December 2022, 16:40