30 December 2017

Malawi: Hangman's Job to Be Filled in Malawi Amidst Death Sentence Campaign

Malawi government will soon call for people to apply to be the state's executioner in a country where employment is hard to find as Presidential adviser on local policies Hetherwick Ntaba is lobbying for the application of a death sentence to people convicted of murdering persons with albinism.

Ntaba, who is also chairperson of a committee tasked to fight against abuse of persons with albinism, told reporters that their appeal for the death sentence follows a fact-finding mission which showed that a good number of people are for the sentence as a deterrent measure to would-be offenders.

Outspoken lawmaker Bon Kalindo from ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) first sounded the call for the death penalty, saying albino killers are vicious murderers who must be executed to prevent them from murdering again.

A lawmaker from the opposition Malawi Congress Party, Madalitso Kazombo, backed the proposal that albino killers should be sentenced to death "instead of merely jailing them".

He said there is need to strengthen the penal code and allow for the death sentences to be handed down.

The debate on the death penalty remains thorny in Malawi, as convicted murderers are never executed. Their sentences are simply commuted to life imprisonment.

But now the job of hangman could be created to carry out executions if death penalty for albino killers is implemented in sentencing.

Ntaba said he was part of the team which conducted public inquiry on the issue of death sentence as part of consultations for the 1994 Constitution and that Malawians overwhelmingly supported the inclusion of death penalty.

"I do not think that perception has changed," he said.

Ntaba said: "If only you see a picture of the gruesome murder people of albinism have faced, you would agree with us that death penalty should be applicable."

For any any executions to be carried out by the hangman, the Head of State is supposed authorise the death sentence.

The last executioner retired after carrying out his last job before former president Bakili Muluzi ousted dictator Kamuzu Banda in 1994 elections. Muluzi opposed death sentence and all leaders after him have not approved execution.

The departure of the hangman, who was said to be struggling with his conscience, left inmates on death row to have their sentences committed to life-impriosnment on humanitarian grounds.

The former executioner's identity has not been revealed but reports says during the one party state he would execute between two and four prisoners at dawn then months would pass before other hangings were carried out.


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