In response to President Hakainde Hichilema’s political will to strengthen Zambia’s democracy and call to acknowledge the important contributions of CSOs, ABA ROLI implemented the Promoting Constitutional and Legislative Reform program with local Zambian partner, Chapter One Foundation, from August 2022 to September 2023. This program supported the emerging pro-democracy environment in Zambia by implementing strategic litigation trainings, legal writing workshops, and the writing of comparative legal analyses. It also developed a mentorship program for young lawyers. During the life of the program, ABA ROLI trained over 100 lawyers and CSOs staff members on the topics mentioned. The outcomes of these trainings demonstrated the positive intervention of CSOs in providing opportunities for lawyers to develop their skills and pass on their knowledge to fellow associates.
ABA ROLI and Chapter One Foundation completed numerous legal analyses on various issues including; the 2022 Public Gathering Bill, the Zambian Bill of Rights, a penal code amendment, child marriage court issues, and the effectiveness of anti-SGBV laws in Zambia. These analyses were shared with local CSOs in Zambia to further the availability of access to knowledge on these issues and provide argumentative support to organizations seeking to take legal action. The mentorship program for young lawyers reached 122 mentees. The mentorship sessions offered mentees, mostly young lawyers with less than five years of experience, access to skilled lawyers who have experience working in constitutional and legal reform. The sessions created spaces for seasoned lawyers to share their experiences, answer questions, discuss concerns regarding strategic litigation and legislative drafting, and stay connected with attendees. Former ABA President Jim Silkenat provided in-person one-on-one mentorship to four mentees who attended to the Legislative Drafting training in Zambia. Another ABA mentor, Jonathan Kaufman, provided case support to five lawyers working on various stages of strategic litigation cases. Mr. Kaufman supported one mentee in a mock trial to prepare for his case advocating for rights for people with disabilities before the Supreme Court of Zambia. By the end of the program, several CSOs and law firms reached out to ABA ROLI requesting additional technical assistance, highlighting the crucial gaps addressed by the program and the need for ongoing capacity-building support to address the growing concern of the decline in media freedom and freedom of expression. The impacts of the activities conducted throughout this program aspire to create sustainable partnerships from the mentor program and strengthen the capacity of lawyers in Zambia to continue the work of reinforcing democracy.