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African Human Rights Law Journal

On-line version ISSN 1996-2096
Print version ISSN 1609-073X


MWANSA, Abraham. Law, religion and human rights in Zambia: The past, present and the practice. Afr. hum. rights law j. [online]. 2008, vol.8, n.2, pp.546-567. ISSN 1996-2096.

Zambia, a former British colony, is a unitary state with a population of about 10 million inhabitants. Zambia has a political system that embraces both the presidential and parliamentary systems of government. A member of parliament, once elected as such, may be appointed to cabinet. The religious demography is mostly Christian, with the other religions existing side by side. Zambia has a Bill of Rights enshrined in the Constitution, and amongst the rights guaranteed is the right to religion. The right to religion is therefore justiciable. Apart from the constitutionbal gaurantee, the right to religion is also enforced by the Human Rights Commission, the Police Complaints Authority, the Anti-Corruption Commssion, to mention but a few, as well as other institutions put in place by government for the enforcement of human rights. Under the Constitution, African traditional and customary law practices are only recognised to the extent that they do not conflict with written law. Despite this recognition, women and children have remained marginalised. Socio-economic rights are only directives of state principals which are not justiciable. The right to religion is justiciable. The right to religion, coupled with religious scruples and the regulation of the internal affairs of churches, mosques, religious schools and such by the government leaves little to be desired. Christianity is favoured. Zambia was declared a Christian nation by the second republican President, Dr Frederick Chiluba. Practice has shown that, in as much as the Constitution guarantees freeedom of religion, Zambian leaders have more often than not favoured those with an inclination towards Christianity.

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