Citizenship in Zambia is governed by the 1991 Constitution, as amended in 2016.  The 2016 amendments repealed and replaced the citizenship provisions, permitting dual citizenship for the first time, providing for a presumption of citizenship in favour of children of unknown parents, and expanding rights to apply for citizenship for those born and resident in Zambia. Gender equality had already been implemented in relation to citizenship by descent — though not marriage — by amendments adopted in 1973.

The legislation providing more detail on acquisition and loss, the Zambia Citizenship Act 1975, was repealed and replaced following the adoption of the 2016 Constitution with a new Citizenship Act adopted in June 2016.

In its most recent concluding observations on Zambia, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child noted that while birth registration in Zambia has improved in recent years, it is unacceptably low.

The issue of citizenship has been raised in national elections. Questioning the citizenship of opponents is a tool which some Zambian politicians have used to try to discredit their opponents, some of which have resulted in arrests. Several cases have been heard by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, including the case concerning the citizenship of former president Kenneth Kaunda.

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