Environmental pollution and land degradation should be punishable- Sector Group
Lusaka, April 4, ZANIS…….The Sector Group looking at Land, Environment and Natural Resources have amended article 67 of the Draft Constitution in order to prevent deliberate environmental pollution and land degradation by some people.
The amendment was arrived at after thorough consultation and reference with other constitutions such as the South African and Kenyan Constitutions.
Delegates observed that Article 67 which states that a person has the right to a clean and healthy living environment was not articulate enough to protect the environment and people hence the need to be more direct and indicate measures to take if one decides to degrade or pollute the environment.
The Article has been amended to state that, every person has the right to a clean and healthy environment and further explained the right to a clean and healthy environment includes rights to have the environment protected for the benefit of present and future generations through legislative and other measures that Prevent pollution and environmental degradation plus secure environmentally
sustainable development, management and use of natural resources.
But Citizens for a Better Environment Executive Director Peter Sinkamba still felt the clause had not address the Zambia scenario as it was a borrowed clause from the South African and Kenyan Constitutions.
Mr. Sinkamba proposed that a clause be added to provide for a legal provision to deal with people who willfully degrade or pollute the environment and additionally allow people to report and sue violators
of the law.
Mr. Sinkamba proposed a clause that states that a person that degrades the environment shall be liable for any harm or damage caused to the environment by that person and shall compensate any person to who the harm or damage has been occasioned and to rehabilitate the affected environment.
The proposal received rejections at first but after explanation some delegates began to accept that the clause deserves to be in the bill of rights.
But Pamela Sambo, a delegate, observed that as much as the proposed clause was important, it was not necessary to include it in the bill of rights as it was already provided for.
But the Chairperson of the Group Lannette Kambole Chiti who is an Environmental Lawyer decided that the matter be taken to fellow Environmental lawyers for consultancy and be later voted on.
But when it came up for voting the majority decided that the clause become part of article 67 as clause (B).
Meanwhile the Group has retained article 293 on the access, management and usage of land in Zambia.
This was after a debate as to whether every Zambian should have equitable access to land and associated resources or a person should have a right to hold land. The former was accepted while the later was rejected as it could bring anarchy in the country.