MINISTRY of Justice Permanent Secretary Patricia Jere has called for laws that will reflect positively on Zambia's modern environment and commitment to human rights.
Ms Jere said lack of a comprehensive review of the country's penal and criminal procedure codes posed a threat to punitive laws that lagged behind social development and modern human rights standards.
She was speaking in Lusaka when she officiated at a consultative meeting of the Zambia Law Development Commission on a project to review the penal code and the criminal procedure code (CPC).
"As you are aware the two statues were inherited from the Northern Rhodesia era and have been amended repeatedly.
"Further specialised legislation such as the plea negotiations and agreements Act have been enacted, thereby posing the danger of contradiction in the penal law of the country," she said.
The workshop was, among other issues, aimed at discussing elements of punishment arising from consultation on sentencing, aspects of sexual offences related to marriage and offences against public tranquility.
Ms Jere urged the commission to continue acting as a catalyst of change in Government's endeavour to be responsive to the needs of the people and compliance to human rights obligations.
"It is, therefore, my hope that you will attach importance to this process and continue to support the review to the end," Ms Jere said.
The first review workshop wasin March 2011 when the first meeting was convened to indentify and define key problematic areas of the penal code and the CPC.
Ms Jere said from that background, it was clear that the review should be split into sub-projects to allow for a comprehensive review.
She urged Zambians to utilise the current draft Constitution to make concrete comments if the country was to come up with a solid document.
Zambia Law Development Commission Deputy Director, Joyce Macmillan said the meeting was aimed at providing a platform for the commission to receive recommendations from key stakeholders.
Ms Macmillan, in her presentation, challenged the workshop participants on the need to examine whether the penal code and CPC in their current state adequately responded to the needs of contemporary Zambia.
"Further, there is need to appreciate whether the provisions in new statutes that have a bearing on criminal law are in sync with those in the codes," she said.
The Permanent Secretary said concerns had been raised that although the two pieces of legislation were enacted in the earlier part of the 20th Century and despite several amendments, they had never been widely reviewed.
She said the CPC Chapter 88 of the Laws of Zambia was the basic source for the legal processes employed in the prosecution and adjudication of criminal cases.