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Comment By UN Human Rights Office Spokesperson Seif Magango On Zambia’s Pledge To Abolish The Death Penalty

We warmly welcome the Zambian President’s pledge on 24 May to abolish the death penalty in the country and work with Parliament to end this cruel, inhuman, and degrading punishment. Use of the death penalty is incompatible with fundamental human rights and dignity.

While Zambia has maintained a welcome moratorium on the death penalty since 1997 when executions last took place, its formal abolition in law would be a major step forward for human rights in the country, adding to the growing consensus worldwide for universal abolition of the death penalty. Some 170 States have abolished or introduced a moratorium on the death penalty either in law or in practice.

We urge the Zambian Government and Parliament to promptly bolster the President’s pledge with tangible legal reforms, including amending the Penal Code Act and the Criminal Procedure Code Act to remove capital provisions there, as well as re-launching the Constitutional Reform process to expand the Bill of Rights, including with explicit prohibition of the death penalty. We also encourage the Government to demonstrate further international leadership on this key issue by ratifying the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, on abolition of the death penalty.

The UN Human Rights Office stands ready to provide technical assistance and cooperation to the Zambian authorities to make this promise a reality.

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