Human Rights Committee commends Zambia for the abolition of the death penalty
Published on 17 Mar 2023, 01:03 PM
Zambia was reviewed by the Human Rights Committee on March 2 and 3 2023
The Human Rights Committee reviewed the fourth periodic report of Zambia with the State delegation on March 2 and 3. It was long overdue, since the previous dialogue of Zambia with the Committee took place in 1998.
The delegation of Zambia was praised multiple times for their honest and constructive responses, which allowed for a fruitful discussion. Moreover, the majority of the delegation were females, something also praised by the Committee. Nevertheless, to an important part of the questions the delegation said they would reply in writing, which will not be accessible to the general public.
Harassment and violence against LGTBIQ+
The Committee questioned the delegation about the remaining criminalization of same sex consensual relations in the country, labeled as ‘sodomy’, and reports of arrest and forced anal exams. This constitutes a violation of the right to privacy and non discrimination of the ICCPR and allows for a climate where physical harassment and violence against LGTBIQ people are perpetrated with impunity. Moreover, high level public officials and politicians frequently instigate prejudice against the LGBTIQ community.
The delegation replied that, in Zambian, every individual no matter its status was considered equal before the law, and so the Constitution provided that any person being discriminated against had recourse before the law, including if they were part of the LGBTIQ community.
Accession to the Second Optional Protocol on death penalty
Zambia delegation during the dialogue with the Human Rights Committee in Geneva
Another salient topic was the abolition of the death penalty in the country on December 2022, which the Committee commended. Nevertheless, there are still people on death row.
The delegation said that the President commuted 390 death sentences to life imprisonment sentences. The delegation also announced their intention to accede to the Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR on abolition of death penalty and said that the process was already set in motion.
Treatment of children
Lastly, the Committee asked the delegation about the treatment of children. Some of the most worrisome issues include the use of corporal punishment against children, minimum working age, age of marriage, and health conditions in mining areas.
To this, the delegation replied that they recently enacted the Children's Code Act, which protected children and criminalized sexual exploitation, prostitution, coercing a child to engage in sexual activity and exposing children to pornography. Also, the President was an advocate of ending child marriage and they were working towards it. Moreover, they recently raised the age of criminal responsibility to 12 years old, which could not be raised to 14, as intended, because the Penal Code had to be reconciled with other legislation.
Watch again the dialogue with the Committee here (part one) and here (part two).
Recommendations of the Human Rights Committee
Concluding Observations on Zambia fourth periodic report were released on March 24, 2023. The State party is requested to provide, by 24 March 2026, information on the implementation of the following recommendations:
Violence against women, including domestic violence
The State party should intensify its efforts to:
- (a) Encourage the reporting of cases of violence against women, including by ensuring that all women and girls have access to multiple forms of reporting and information about their rights and available remedies;
- (b) Investigate all allegations of violence against women, including domestic violence, prosecute and, if found guilty, punish perpetrators with penalties commensurate with the gravity of the offences, and provide victims with full reparation and means of protection, including access to adequately resourced shelters and legal assistance;
- (c) Provide appropriate resources and adequate training for judges, prosecutors, lawyers, and law enforcement officers, in handling cases of violence against women, including domestic violence;
- (d) Strengthen awareness-raising campaigns for the whole society with a special focus on traditional, religious and public opinion leaders to address harmful cultural practices that generate gender-based violence.
Prohibition of torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment
The State party should expedite adoption of the anti-torture legislation and ensure that it contains a definition of torture compliant with international law.
Here you can find all the recommendations given by the Committee in the Concluding Observations.
The follow-up report of Zambia on the implementation of the recommendations is due in 2026. The next list of issues will be adopted in 2029, and the next periodic report is due in 2030.