Sentencing in Zambia

Author Kelly Kapianga

ISSN: 1996-2118
Affiliations: MSc in Criminology and Criminal Justice (University of Oxford). Legal practitioner admitted to practice in the Republic of Zambia; currently reading for a Master’s of Laws (Harvard University).
Source: South African Journal of Criminal Justice, Volume 33 Issue 1, p. 66 – 88


Zambia faces numerous problems relating to sentencing, including unwarranted sentencing disparities and an unmanageable prison population attributable to, among other factors, a failure to make sufficient use of non-custodial sentences. One consequence of Zambia’s history as a former British protectorate is that its Constitution requires Zambia to borrow from English law and practice in matters that are not covered by Zambian law. The article highlights the shortcomings in Zambia’s sentencing system and recommends that Zambian sentencers adopt and adapt the English and Welsh sentencing guidelines to help address the problems currently faced by sentencers in this jurisdiction. Sentencing guidelines are fast becoming a staple feature of sentencing systems worldwide including several African jurisdictions. They are proving to be a useful device for not only restraining unwarranted sentencing disparities, but also incorporating non-custodial sentences into a sentencing system as one of several measures of ensuring the efficient use of penal resources. The English and Welsh sentencing guidelines have proved to be particularly influential in the development of guidelines across the world, including on the African continent.