THERE is need to support provisions in the Bill of Rights that advocate non-custodial sentences as Zambia has failed in this score despite the Constitution stating that all citizens are presumed innocent until proven guilty, says Prisons Care and Counselling Association ( PRISCCA) executive director Godfrey Malembeka.
Dr Malembeka said in an interview yesterday that PRISCCA welcomed the clause in the Bill of Rights that states that pregnant or nursing women should have a right to a non-custodial sentence.
He, however, said more vulnerable persons such as those with disabilities and those terminally ill needed to be covered and stated that the organisation would continue to advocate for such provisions.
Dr Malembeka said although the Constitution of Zambia guaranteed that one was innocent until proved guilty by the courts of law, most people were still languishing in prison awaiting trial as most of the cases required a suspended sentence, community service or bail as they were not a flight risk.
“We need to support provisions that advocate non-custodial sentences because Zambia still has a low rate but more people need to benefit from suspended sentences, community service and bail. We hope people with disabilities and those terminally ill would also benefit just like pregnant women and those nursing their young ones, “he said.
The Bill of Rights has been published and President Edgar Lungu has urged Patriotic Front members to vote “YES”.
The Bill, under the civil and political rights section, states that life of a person begins at conception.
“A person shall not be deprived of life intentionally except for a capital offence, the sentence of which is death, subject to limitations, defences and extent prescribed,” reads part of the Bill of Rights. The Bill of Rights will be subjected to a referendum alongside the August 11 general elections