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Prisons NGO calls for abolition of death penalty

CATHERINE MUMBA, Lusaka
THE Prisons Care and Counselling Association (PRISCCA) says the death penalty should be abolished because it goes against the declaration of Zambia as a Christian nation.
PRISCCA executive director Godfrey Malembeka has told the Parliamentary Committee on Legal Affairs, Governance, Human Rights,  Gender Matters and Child Affairs  that the revenge mentality which goes with the death penalty should have no place in a Christian nation like Zambia.
“An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind, death sentences do not deter other people from committing murders or other felonies. Emphasis should be on rehabilitation instead of retribution,” Dr Malembeka said.
He also said the Zambian justice system has lapses which could lead to the arrest of a wrong person.
Dr Malembeka said mistrials and discriminatory application of the law on various grounds could lead to wrong persons being hanged.
He contends that most people on death row are from low-income groups.
Dr Malembeka said it is important for Zambians to realise that even prisoners have the right to life because the country is party to many regional and international instruments which promote human rights and respect the sanctity of life.
He said retaining the death penalty in Zambian statutes is a crime against humanity.
Dr Malembeka said prisons are originally a product of the church and were established for the purpose of realising remorse when one is locked up under heavy doors alone.
He said it is better to give offenders long sentences because they become productive while in prison. Death row where they only fill up space in prisons in that no death penalties have not been executed from 1997.
Dr Malembeka said PRISCCA appreciates the position taken by Presidents not to sign death warrants.



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