Death penalty retained in draft constitution

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The death penalty article in the draft constitution split the ongoing Lusaka constitution convention when some people called for ‘an eye for an eye’ while others advocated for forgiveness in the country.

The death penalty is an article in the draft constitution which permits for deprivation of life for a convict of a capital offence or an individual who has been sentenced to death.

The delegated to the convention were divided on whether or not to retain the death penalty in the constitution as Christians kept using the Bible to justify their arguments.

Gabriel Mwanamwele said the Bible was clear on the subject as it did not permit anyone to terminate one’s life hence the need to remove the article from the constitution especially that Zambia has adopted a Christian nation clause.

Father Mwanamwele said retaining the article would be contradicting the teachings of the Bible and the declaration of Zambia as a Christian nation.

His sentiments were supported by Charles Mumena, a delegate representing the former ruling party, Movement for Multiparty Democracy, who contended that the country should not be compelled to kill because someone has killed.

But a representative of the Islamic Supreme Council of Zambia Huzaifa Jada strongly argued that the death penalty article should be retained in the constitution as it would act as a deterrent to would be offenders.

Mr. Jada noted that the article poses no opposition to the declaration of the country as a Christian nation because it secures life for innocent citizens.

Another delegate, who was representing the Patriotic Front (PF), Sheal Mulyata, said ‘those who kill by the sword shall be killed by the sword’ adding that retaining the article was the only solution to a crime free nation.

The article was only adopted after it was subjected to a vote.

Article 28 of the draft constitution states that a person has the right to life which begins at conception and that a person shall not be deprived of life intentionally, except to the extent authorized by the constitution or any other law.

The same article in clause 3 states that a person shall be deprived of life if that person has been convicted of a capital offence and sentenced to death. This further implies that abortion has also been made illegal.

Meanwhile, the convention has adopted an article to allow for Zambians to hold dual citizenship.

Article number 18 of the draft constitution states that a citizen shall not lose citizenship by acquiring the citizenship of another country.

The convention has also adopted most of the articles which were considered with few amendments.