Zambia gained independence from Britain on 24 October 1964. Zambia became a democratic multi-party state in 1991.

Zambia has a mixed legal system based on English common law and customary law.

Zambia has a constitution dating from 24 August 1991, amended in 2016. A constitutional referendum was held in Zambia on 11 August 2016 to vote on the amended version of the Constitution and voters were asked whether they approve of proposed amendments to the Bill Of Rights and Article 79, which dictates the process of future amendments. Although 71% of voters voted in favour of the amendments, the 50% turnout threshold was not met to validate the result.

President Edgar Lungu was elected president in January 2015.

ACJR provided support to Prisons Care & Counselling Association (PRISCCA) and Paralegal Alliance Network (PAN) to develop useful and cross-cutting justice indicators which may be used to measure and report on the work of their organisations and programme.

The laws of Zambia are published by the Zambian Parliament and are available here.


La Zambie a acquit son indépendance de la Grande-Bretagne le 24 Octobre 1964. Elle devint un Etat multipartite démocratique en 1991.

La Zambie est dotée d’un système judiciaire mixte basé sur le common law et le droit coutumier.

La Zambie a une constitution datant du 24 août 1991, modifiée en 2016. Un référendum constitutionnel a eu lieu en Zambie le 11 août 2016 voter sur la version modifiée de la Constitution et on a demandé aux électeurs s'ils approuvaient les modifications proposées au Bill of Rights et à l'article 79 qui dictaient le processus de modifications futures. Bien que 71% des électeurs aient voté en faveur des modifications, le seuil de participation de 50% n'a pas été respecté pour valider le résultat.

Le président Edgar Lungu a été élu président en janvier 2015.

L'ACJR a apporté son soutien à l'organisation Prisons Care & Counselling Association (PRISCCA) et au Paralegal Alliance Network (PAN) afin d'élaborer des indicateurs de justice qui soient tant utiles que transversaux et qui puissent être utilisés pour mesurer et faire rapport sur le travail de leurs organisations et de leurs programmes.

La législation Zambienne est publiée par le Parlement et est disponible (en anglais) ici.


Esta secção contém uma breve descrição do sistema jurídico da Zâmbia e elenca pesquisas e documentos pertinentes à justiça preventiva na Zâmbia.

A Zâmbia ganhou a independência da Grã-Bretanha em 24 de Outubro de 1964. A Zâmbia se tornou um Estado democrático multipartidário, em 1991.

A Zâmbia tem um sistema jurídico misto baseado no direito comum Inglês e direito consuetudinário.

A Zâmbia tem uma constituição datada de 24 de Agosto de 1991, alterada em 1996 e algumas tentativas de revisões constitucionais fracassaram. Um referendo constitucional foi realizado em 11 de agosto de 2016 para votar a emenda da Constituição e para entender se os eleitores aprovassem a proposta de emenda e o Artigo 79, que dita o processo de futuras emendas. Embora 71% dos eleitores tenham votado a favor das alterações, o limite de 50% de participação não foi cumprido para validar o resultado.

A ACJR prestou apoio à Associação Cuidado & Aconselhamento para as Prisões (Prisons Care & Counselling Association, PRISCCA) e à Rede de Paralegais (Paralegal Alliance Network, PAN) para desenvolver indicadores de justiça úteis e transversais que possam ser usados para medir e relatar o trabalho de suas organizações e programas.

As leis da Zâmbia são publicadas pelo Parlamento Zambiano e estão disponíveis aqui.

Report - Overview and key findings COVID-19 restrictions and the impact on criminal justice and human rights (Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa & Zambia)
Author: Lukas
Published: Jul 29, 2022

This report makes a number of overview observations dealing with broader issues of governance, human rights, the socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the criminal justice system. A central lesson to be taken from these findings is the need for continued vigilance in seeking a balancing of rights and the importance of evidence-based policy-making, especially where there is the potential that those already socio-economically vulnerable may be pushed deeper into poverty. Report by L Muntingh, J Mangwanda & K Petersen

Fact Sheet 22: Arrest without a warrant in Zambia: Law reform to prevent arbitrary arrest
Author: Janelle
Published: Feb 06, 2020

This fact sheet deals with arrest without a warrant in Zambia. It highlights the legal framework governing arrest without a warrant, the shortcomings in the legislation as well as some challenges with implementation as is evident from case law. The fact sheet recommends that the Zambian Criminal Procedure Code Act and the Police Act are reviewed and that the provisions on arrest without a warrant are amended to comply with international best practice on arrest in accordance to the obligations of the African Charter which seek to protect the right of life, dignity, equality and security of all people.

Solitary Confinement - A review of the legal framework and practice in five African countries
Author: Jean
Published: Oct 23, 2018

This report investigates the legal frameworks of five African countries (Kenya Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa and Zambia) as they relate to the use of solitary confinement. The effect of long periods of solitary confinement have been shown to have severe impacts on a prisoner’s mental and physical well-being. The UN Human Rights Committee (UNHRC) has noted that the use of prolonged solitary confinement may amount to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, in breach of Article 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). In December 2015, the UN General Assembly adopted the revised United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, also known as the Nelson Mandela Rules (‘2015 UNSMR’). The 2015 UNSMR addresses a key shortcoming in the protection and treatment of people in places of detention, as it, for the first time, sets down norms and limitations on the use of solitary confinement. The report concludes that there are major areas of non-compliance in each of the countries and this requires urgent attention

Bail and Bond in Zambia
Author: Kristen
Published: Sep 13, 2017

Challenges and Recommendations considering Legal and Administrative reforms

Constitutionality of Criminal Procedure and Prison Laws in Africa: Zambia
Author: Jean
Published: Oct 01, 2016

Zambia’s Constitution contains an enforceable Bill of Rights, one which mainly lists civil and political rights that constrain state power. Having human rights enshrined in an enforceable manner in the Constitution is important, because the validity of other laws is measured by their conformity to the Constitution.

Constitutionality of Criminal Procedure and Prison Laws in Africa A comparative study of Burundi, Côte d’Ivoire, Kenya, Mozambique and Zambia
Author: Jean
Published: Oct 01, 2016

This study reviews 41 rights of arrested, accused and detained persons under Burundian, Ivorian, Kenyan, Mozambican and Zambian law. These countries were chosen because they represent Anglophone, Francophone and Lusophone Africa as well as countries that have a civil law and common law tradition. The study begins by reviewing 17 rights of those arrested and detained in police custody; it goes on to examine 18 rights of accused persons; and ends by considering six rights of those detained in prison on remand or as sentenced prisoners. Each right is examined from three angles: first, whether it is recognised under international human rights law; secondly, to what extent the right is enshrined in the domestic constitution of the jurisdiction under review; and thirdly, to what extent the right is upheld and developed in subordinate legislation.

Challenging disadvantage in Zambia: People with psychosocial and intellectual disabilities in the criminal justice system
Author: Jean
Published: Jul 23, 2015

This project investigated how individuals with psychosocial and intellectual disabilities are dealt with by the criminal justice system in Zambia, and developed recommendations for improving policy and practice. The project was undertaken by a consortium of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) comprising the Paralegal Alliance Network (PAN), Mental Health Users Network Zambia (MHUNZA), the Prisons Care and Counselling Association (PRISCCA), the Zambia Federation of Disability Organisations (ZAFOD), the Legal Resources Foundation (LRF) and the UK-based Prison Reform Trust. The work was funded by the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) and the Human Rights Initiative at the Open Society Foundations, and was overseen by a steering committee chaired by the Ministry of Home Affairs.

A Survey Report on the Application of Bond and Bail Legislation in Zambia 2014
Author: Jean
Published: Jan 07, 2015

This report by the Zambian Human Rights Commission was based on a survey conducted to collect information on factors affecting access and conditions regarding bail among people found to be in conflict with the law in Zambia. The findings are meant to provide a basis for the review of current bail legislation relating to bail conditions in Zambia by promoting easy access for suspects or inmates to bail regardless of their social and economic conditions.

Handbook on Juvenile Law In Zambia
Author: Jean
Published: Aug 31, 2014

This publication by Zambia's Centre for Law and Justice, Cornell Law School’s Avon Global Center for Women and Justice, and Cornell Law School's International Human Rights Clinic offers a compendium of Zambian juvenile law, including the processing of juveniles in the criminal justice system. It synthesizes relevant constitutional and statutory law, case law, and international human rights law and highlights best practices that practitioners may consider when working on matters involving juveniles.

Outdated offence used to arrest Zambian activist
Author: Jean
Published: Apr 11, 2013

An activist has been arrested in Zambia for "inciting the public to take part in indecent activities" authorities have said. This offence was adopted in Zambia in 1898 via England's Vagrancy Act of 1824. Activist Paul Kasonkomona was arrested immediately after appearing on a live television show on Sunday 7 April. In the show he outlined measures to combat HIV, which he argued included the decriminalisation of same-sex acts.

US Department of State Human Rights Report: Zambia 2012
Author: Suraj
Published: Mar 22, 2013

"Prolonged pretrial detention was a problem. Approximately 30 percent of prison inmates were in pretrial detention. On average detainees spent an estimated three years in pretrial detention, which often exceeded the length of the prison sentence that corresponded to their alleged crime. For example, on August 18, the High Court freed Mateo Mfula Kapotwe, who had been held for 11 years on charges of murder before the state decided not to prosecute him. Approximately one-third of persons in incarceration had not been convicted of a crime or had not received a trial date. Broad rules of procedure gave wide latitude to prosecutors and defense attorneys to delay trials. Judicial inefficiency, lack of resources, and lack of trained personnel also contributed to prolonged pretrial detention."

Paralegal Alliance Network (PAN)
Author: Jean
Published: Nov 27, 2012

Paralegal Alliance Network (PAN) is a network of Zambian non governmental organisations (NGOs).

Legal Resources Foundation Zambia
Author: Jean
Published: Apr 12, 2012

Legal Resources Foundation Zambia is a non-profit Foundation, established in 1993 providing legal aid, promoting human rights and conducting litigation in the public interest. Legal Resources Foundation is the leading provider of legal services to financially disadvantaged persons in Zambia.

Water in Zambian prisons cut-off
Author: Jean
Published: Feb 23, 2012

THE Lukanga Water and Sewerage Company yesterday disconnected water supply to all prisons in Central province to recover more than K200million (US$38000) owed in water bills, placing prisoners lives in jeopardy.

Imprisoned and imperiled: access to HIV and TB prevention and treatment, and denial of human rights, in Zambian prisons
Author: Jean
Published: Jun 02, 2011

Journal of the International AIDS Society 2011, 14:8. "To better understand the relationship between prison conditions, the criminal justice system, and HIV and TB in Zambian prisons, we conducted a mixed-method study, including: facility assessments and in-depth interviews with 246 prisoners and 30 prison officers at six Zambian prisons; a review of Zambian legislation and policy governing prisons and the criminal justice system; and 46 key informant interviews with government and non-governmental organization officials and representatives of international agencies and donors."

Unjust and Unhealthy: HIV, TB, and Abuse in Zambian Prisons
Author: Jean
Published: Apr 01, 2010

This report is the first analysis of prison health conditions in Zambia by independent human rights organizations. In preparing this report, PRISCCA, ARASA, and Human Rights Watch interviewed 246 prisoners, eight former prisoners, 30 prison officers, and conducted facility tours at six prisons throughout the central corridor of Zambia. The purpose of this research was to understand health conditions and human rights violations in Zambian prisons, and to provide recommendations for a future which respects the basic rights and minimum standards due to prisoners.

Chetankumar Shantkal Parekh v People (S.C.Z. Judgment No. 11 of 1995) [1995] ZMSC 25 (10 July 1995); (1995 ) SJ (SC)
Author: Jean
Published: Jul 10, 1995

(i) Where any trial is unreasonably delayed through no fault or strategem of the accused, the arrested person must be released on what one might call "constitutional bail". Such bail is available and clearly overrides any prohibitions in the lesser laws so that Article 13(3) would apply to any unreasonably delayed case, whatever the charge and whatever s.43 of the Act., or s.123 of the C.P.C. or any other similar law may say (ii) There is nothing in the Constitution which invalidates a law imposing a total prohibition on the release on bail of a person reasonably suspected of having committed a criminal offence, provided that he is brought to trial within a reasonable time after he has been arrested and detained (iii) Before the stage when a trial becomes unreasonably delayed, it is constitutionally permissible to authorise deprivation of liberty, if authorised by law, and without making any provision for bail under any circumstances

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