By SIMON MUNTEMBA
THE gesture by President Edgar Lungu for commuting sentences of 246 death row inmates to life imprisonment is commendable, the Human Rights Commission (HRC) has said.
HRC principal information officer, Simon Mulumbi said the gesture will help decongest Mukobeko Maximum Security Correctional Facility and impact positively on the right to health and life of the inmates.
Mr Mulumbi said in a statement that before the committal, the number of the inmates was in excess of 400 thereby posing a great risk to them especially with the second wave of Covid-19.
He explained that overcrowding was a challenge that correctional facilities were faced with which has made it difficult for inmates to observe social distance thus making them prone to Covid-19 and other diseases.
Mr Mulumbi also said so far 67 Covid-19 cases have been recorded among inmates and officers in correctional facilities.
He said there was an urgent need for strict measures to be put in place to control the situation and reduce the risk of inmates contracting other diseases.
Meanwhile, Mr Mulumbi said Zambia had earned a good human rights record at international level on account of recommendable actions taken by its leaders to suspend the death penalty and commute to life imprisonment.
He appealed to Government to consider permanently abolishing the death penalty to enhance respect to right to life through a referendum.