THE Zambia Prisons Services yesterday submitted before the Parliamentary Committee on Legal Affairs that the law on death penalty be abolished and substituted with progressive types of punishments.
Senior Assistant Commissioner Chrispin Kaonga told the parliamentarians that death penalty was unproductive and costly.
“The way forward on death penalty in Zambia is that the Constitution has maintained it as necessary piece of law. However, on the administrative aspect with moratorium in place, to continue maintaining it is very unproductive and costly; it is my considered view that death penalty be abolished and substituted with progressive types of punishments that should address that which death penalty has failed to do,” Dr Kaonga said.
He argued that since death was the end to one’s life there was no lesson to the one that was punished with a death sentence.
“Death penalty has been used for quite some time in punishing criminals with capital offences as a way of deterring the would-be offenders; however, notwithstanding the presence of death penalty as punishment, criminals have continued to commit these crimes and overtime the numbers have increased, which casts doubt as to how effective the punishment is,” Dr Kaonga said.
He said it was unfortunate that Zambia had not yet ratified the Second Optional Protocol on International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) of 1966 which provides for the abolition of the death penalty.
Dr Kaonga said article 6 of the ICCPR provides that every human being has the inherent right to life and that no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of this life. He said the provision was fully recognised in Zambia despite not abolishing the death penalty and death sentence were imposed for capital offences in accordance with Zambian law.
Dr Kaonga said the challenges associated with the administration and dispensation of justice, in relation to offences that attract capital punishment include, among others, the moratorium on the execution of those on death roll and had completed their legal processes, which creates pressure on available resources.
He said as the number of death roll prisoners increased there had not been corresponding increase in terms of cell expansion to accommodate the cadre of prisoners.