Zambia Repeals Death Penalty Law, Defamation Of The President No Longer A Crime

Zambia President Hakainde Hichilema has announced the abolition of the death penalty and the offense of criminal defamation of the president.

The President made this know via his Facebook platform.

According to Zambia law, the Penal Code (Amendment) Bill number 25 of 2022, which was assented to by the president, repeals all provisions in the Penal Code Act that provided for the mandatory death sentence in the absence of extenuating circumstances.

The provision of Section 69 which pertain to criminal defamation of the president, have also been repealed.

President Hakainde Hichilema stressed that these changes align with the campaign promises to amend laws that inhibit the growth of democracy, good governance, and human rights.

Hakinde said, “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,” the president said in a statement.

The statement however, said the abolition of the death penalty and criminal defamation of the president marks a significant step forward for human rights in the Republic of Zambia. The decision to repeal these provisions demonstrates a commitment to justice and the protection of basic freedoms for all citizens.

However, the repeal of law on defamation of the President from the Penal Code by Parliament is a job half done for President Hichilema’s administration for which he must be commended but the President must be encouraged to do more, says Governance Activist Isaac Mwanza.

“The repeal of Section 69 of the Penal Code will not significantly change Zambia’s democratic landscape unless President Hichilema and his administration proceeds to further repeal the entire Chapter 18, inclusive of Chapter 8, of the Penal Code which maintains criminal defamation on the statutes,” said Mr Mwanza.

Mr Mwanza said that the repealed Section 69 was solely used for convenience by the Zambia Police in charging persons that issue defamatory remarks against the President because the Police will still be arresting any person or opponents or issue similar remarks charging anybody with criminal defamation of the President based on provisions of Chapter 18 of the Penal Code.

Mr Mwanza has since advised that it is too early for anyone to celebrate the repeal of Section 69 of the Penal Code as a victory for democracy.

“As you may see from Chapter 18 of the Penal Code, the law is replete with many provisions for charging persons with defamation of the President even in the absence of the repealed Section 69 of the Penal Code,” he said.