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UN Describe Zambia’s Abolition of Death Penalty a “Historic Milestone”

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The UN team in Zambia has called the country’s decision to abolish the death sentence as a “historic milestone,” praising the Zambian government’s action.

In a statement issued on Friday, the UN team stated that the decision to abolish the death penalty was the result of advocacy efforts by humanitarian and development partners.

President Hakainde Hichilema announced the move on December 23, which “followed years of advocacy efforts” by concerned stakeholders, according to the statement.

It was the culmination of years of advocacy efforts by concerned parties such as the National Human Rights Commission, civil society organizations, development partners, the UN team, and others.

The UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR), for example, aided in the preparation for the UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Reviews (UPR), including the fourth review slated for this year.

The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) mechanism was established in 2006 to examine the human rights records of all 193 UN Member States.

It is run by a working group that meets three times a year and reviews 14 countries at each session.

The abolition of the death penalty has been repeatedly included as an important subject in the first, second, and third periodic assessments.

“President Hichilema took office in August 2021, and the following May, a ‘breakthrough moment’ happened when the leader and the new Zambian Government vowed to abolish the death sentence and work with parliament to that aim,” the statement stated.

Since then, the UN team has increased its advocacy efforts, culminating in the December observance of International Human Rights Day with government partners.

The UN team also assisted the examination, amendment, and enactment of ordinary legislation, such as the Penal Code and the Public Order Act, and was instrumental in the recent elimination of the president’s defamation as a criminal offense.

The UN and the Zambian government also just agreed a new partnership roadmap for the next five years.

“The country team will continue to support the government’s efforts to reinforce democracy, human rights, and the rule of law through this UN Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework,” it said.

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