Publication Date



The law on sentencing in Zambia is to a great extent chaotic and in disarray. No clear standards are set by the superior courts to guide lower courts and litigants. Often the sentences are at variance with constitutional norms and there has been no sustained effort to align the law of sentencing with constitutional standards, save for a few cases concerning corporal punishment. Somehow, a judicial culture has evolved and continues to grow of sentencing people without regard for constitutional norms. Yet the constitution is the supreme law, the ultimate source of all law and ought to permeate all laws and administrative practices in the state. Article 1(1) of the Zambian Constitution categorically states that the constitution is supreme and overrides all laws and practices. Article 1(3) makes it clear that ‘This Constitution shall bind all persons in Zambia, State organs and State institutions.’ This includes the judiciary and how it sentences persons convicted even of the most heinous crimes. Offenders are not taken outside the ambit of constitutional norms by virtue of their crimes.