death penalty abolished and right to defame the president

death penalty abolished and right to defame the president

Zambia has abolished the death penalty and invalidated a law which prohibited citizens from defaming their head of state, two promises made by President Hakainde Hichilema, elected last year after decades in opposition.

The president on Friday evening signed the decree that abolishes these laws inherited from the colonial era, prompting enthusiastic reactions from NGOs and human rights activists.

Mr Hichilema “approved the Penal Code 2022 which abolishes the death penalty and the criminal offense of defamation of the President, which had been in Zambian statutes since the pre-independence era”, the spokesman said. the presidency, Anthony Bwalya, in a press release.

For rights activist Brebner Changala, this decision represents an important step towards the establishment of true democracy.

“This is a huge milestone in the removal of colonial laws that do not correspond to the country’s democratic regime,” he told AFP on Saturday, calling on the president to go even further and examine “the law on public order, access to information and other colonial laws”.

The director of the Center for Policy Dialogue, Caroline Katotobwe, was pleased that the president had kept his election promise.

“We are delighted that this repressive law has finally been removed. Citizens will be able to freely express their opinions without fear of being prosecuted as was the case in the past,” she said in a statement.

The democratic transition during the election in August 2021 of “HH”, a lifelong opponent, on promises to eradicate rampant corruption and resuscitate the economy, had sparked a surge of hope in Africa and beyond.

A British protectorate, Northern Rhodesia gained independence in 1964 under the name of Zambia. Today, the impoverished, landlocked country has 18 million people.