By Peter Sinkamba
ZAMBIANS GENERALLY SUPPORT DEATH PENALTY: THE CASE OF 6 SUSPECTED CRIMINALS GUNNED DOWN BY POLICE IN LUSAKA
The UPND Government has embarked on an excersize to abolish death penalty. I understand that bills will be presented in parliament soon to actualize the UPND dream of abolishing death penalty in Zambia.
Death penalty or capital punishment, is a Constitutional issue entrenched in the Bill of Rights. To effectively abolish it, Government needs to amend the Bill of Rights. And to do so, Government needs to conduct a referendum so that more than 50% of citizens in Zambia, who are holders of NRCs, not voters cards, approve of the abolishing of capital punishment. In the failed referendum of 2016, abolishing of death penalty failed. So, if Government merely scraps of death penalty from the Penal Code or other laws without amending the Constitution, such changes to the laws will be unconstitutional and therefore illegal. A constitutional challenge of such laws in the courts of law can surely lead to reversals of the purported abolishment of death penalty.
One good example of Zambians’ support for death penalty is the gunning down of six suspected criminals Lusaka two days ago. You will recall that police in Lusaka West shot dead the suspects after a heavy exchange of fire?
In a statement on Saturday, Police spokesperson Rae Hamoonga said the incident happened after police received intelligence information that some suspected criminals were about to stage a robbery at a Chinese company along Kasupe Road.
“Police yesterday around 14:00 hours engaged in a heavy exchange of fire with six dangerous criminals who were armed with an AK47 rifle and regrettably six lives of the criminals were lost. This occurred on 4th November, 2022 around 14:00 hours along Kasupe Road in Lusaka West.”
I was keen to see whether there was going to be anyone who was to protest the extra judicial killing of the suspects. It was all dead silence. Not even UPND which claims to support abolishment of capital punishment protested the extra judicial killing of the suspects.
The the general public point of view, the dead silence was proof that Zambians generally support capital punishment. Otherwise, condemnation of the police on all media platforms would have been deafening.
But from the side of the UPND, the dead silence on the extra judicial killings was something else. It was deafening proof that the Party lacks grounded principled on capital punishment. For, if UPND approves extra judicial killings, one would justifiably question the Party’s grounded theory to detest and abhor a form of capital punishment that is sanctioned by courts of law after exhaustive appeal processes but applaud or approve extra judicial killings.
To be clear to my followers, extra judicial killing is the killing of a person by governmental authorities without the sanction of any judicial proceeding or any legal process. Extrajudicial punishments are unlawful by nature, because they break the process of legal jurisdiction in which they occur. Extra judicial killings are carried out by the state government or other state authorities like the police and armed forces.
So, if the constitutionality of amendments to capital punishment laws will not be challenged in courts of law and take effect, it will be interesting to see how the laws will work out: rejection of court sanctioned capital punishment but approval of extra judicial killing system.
Or will both types of capital punishment be abolished?
Only time will tell!