11 April 2017

Zimbabwe: Abolish Death Penalty, Zimbabwe Urged

Photo: Premium Times
Prisoners (file photo).

AMNESTY International has pleaded with Zimbabwe to abolish the death penalty with some 97 convicts currently awaiting the hangman's noose in the country.

The Zimbabwean constitution now exempts women and those under 21 from the penalty.

Although the country last implemented the death sentence in 2003, it remains one of the only three countries in the region yet to abolish the sentence.

Amnesty fears that Botswana's executions last year may cause the region to regress.

"Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe were the only countries in Southern Africa who handed down death sentences in 2016 - a total of 110, the overwhelming majority of which (101) were in Zambia," said Amnesty in its latest report released this Tuesday.

"Botswana's step backward must not be replicated elsewhere in the region. While they didn't carry out any executions, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe continued to hand down death sentences. We urge all countries to totally abolish the death penalty."

At least 283 people across the region were under sentence of death at the end of 2016, including 157 in Zambia and 97 in Zimbabwe.

Justice minister Emmerson Mnangagwa has since declared his opposition to the death penalty.

"At a time when the number of countries carrying out executions around the world is going down, indicating that the world is moving away from this inhumane and degrading form of punishment, Botswana is the only country in the region still showing flagrant contempt for the right to life," said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International's Regional Director for Southern Africa.

Across sub-Saharan Africa as a whole fewer executions were recorded but the number of death sentences more than doubled, largely due to a steep rise in Nigeria.

About 1,032 executions were carried-out worldwide in 2016, down 37 percent from 2015. Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Pakistan join China as world's top five executioners.

China however remains the leading country in terms of executions in the world with over 1 100 executions. The world generally registered a drop in executions.

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