Justice Minister Given Lubinda says President Edgar Lungu will not abolish the death penalty until Zambians give him the mandate to do so.

And Human Rights Commission chairperson Kondwa Chibiya has urged government to sign and vote in favor of the UN Global Moratorium on death penalty and contribute to the Universal abolition of the “cruel and violent state of taking away one’s life”.

Speaking during the commemoration of the World Day against death penalty at Mulungushi International Conference Centre in Lusaka on Thursday, Lubinda said Zambia would continue to sensitize its citizens on the need to completely abolish the law.

He said President Lungu would continue with the suspension on practice of death penalty but would not abolish the law without majority Zambians saying so through a referendum.

“As you are aware, President Edgar Chagwa Lungu is a democrat and having the law background himself, he will not do anything against the law and the law as it stands today provides for death penalty. He will not amend the law particularly Part 3 of the Constitution unless the
Zambian people, through a referendum, instructs their representatives in Parliament to do. I would like to put it on record that of all the presidents who commutated death sentence to life imprisonment, yours truly President Edgar Chagwa Lungu has actually commutated the largest number of people on death roll to life imprisonment. So I want to urge you that you will do well to spend your energy, spend your efforts and spend your convincing words to go and convince those out there. Coming to the Minister of Justice is a waste of time because he is already a convert. Trying to convince President Edgar Lungu is a total waste of time because as a matter of fact, President Edgar Chagwa Lungu is on your side. He is campaigning for Zambian people to allow Parliament to enhance the rights of Zambians,” said Lubinda.

He said government was committed to ensuring that the rights of the Zambian people were protected.

And Chibiya urged government to vote in favor of the UN Global Moratorium on death penalty.

“I must sate that in time that the Human Rights Commission is opposed to the death penalty and calls for its absolute abolishment. The Commission stands firm in the promotion and protection of the sanctity of life, which the death penalty brutally violates. To this end, the commission urges the Zambian government to ratify the Second Optional Protocol to the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, which abolishes the death penalty,” said Chibiya.

Meanwhile, European Union to Zambia and COMESA deputy head of delegation Robert De Raeve said the death penalty discriminated against the poor and marginalized citizens in a society.

“The death penalty discriminates against the poor and marginalized citizens in a society and is patently socially unfair. Virtually everywhere in the World where the death penalty is applied, statistics show that it is mostly imposed on the poor who can least afford good lawyers,” said De Raeve.

This year’s World Day against the death penalty was commemorated under the Theme “Children: Unforeseen Victims.”