Zambia has released some 150 Ethiopian migrants who had been serving between one and five years in prison on various immigration charges. The episode offers a stark reminder of how strict Zambia can be in enforcing its immigration laws.

Key Points:

  • The migrants, who range in age from 15 to 38, were returned home after receiving a presidential pardon.
  • Zambia’s chief of mission for the International Organisation for Migration, Abibatou Wane, was quoted on IOM’s website as saying the pardon “demonstrates the Zambian government’s commitment to address the plight of migrants and explore alternatives to detention for immigration offences, which will contribute to the decongestion of prisons.”

BAL Analysis: Zambia may be working toward addressing the issue of undocumented and incorrectly documented immigrants in new ways, but the release and deportation of the Ethiopian nationals is a stark reminder that the country has immigration laws that are strictly enforced with hefty penalties of up to 15 years imprisonment for both immigrants and local nationals who are complicit in any breach. This is true not only for migrants who enter the country illegally, but also legal migrants who do not have the correct documentation, including visitors working in Zambia without the appropriate authorization. Contact BAL with any questions about making sure you have the proper documents to visit, reside in or work in Zambia.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group. For additional information, please contact your BAL attorney.

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