Veritas calls for abolition of death penalty

LEGISLATIVE watchdog, Veritas, has called for the enactment of a legislation to abolish the death penalty, adding it was not only cruel, but futile for the courts to continue sending people to the gallows.


The calls follow a recent Presidential clemency order that commuted the death sentence for jailed prisoners to life imprisonment, meaning inmates sentenced to death before March 10, 2008 no longer face execution.

They will serve life imprisonment instead.

Veritas welcomed the clemency order as a step towards abolishing the death penalty, before calling for legislation scrapping provisions for a death sentence.

“The Clemency Order is welcome step, albeit a small one, towards abolition of the death penalty. No executions have been carried out in Zimbabwe since 2005, so there is an effective moratorium on the death penalty which is likely to continue for as long as the President, known to favour abolition, remains in office,” Veritas argued.

“In view of this, it seems not only cruel, but futile for the courts to continue sentencing people to death. Section 48 of the Constitution allows a law to provide for the death penalty, it does not say the law must do so.

“Hence abolition would not entail amending the Constitution, just a simple Act of Parliament removing references to the death penalty from the Criminal Law Code and the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act. Veritas has written to His Excellency the President, asking him to enact legislation abolishing the death penalty.”

The country last carried out execution in 2005 before the last hangman retired. It is not clear when a hangman, following the invitation for applications and subsequent overwhelming interest in the job, will be hired.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa has been against capital punishment after having escaped the hangman’s noose during Zimbabwe’s liberation war, though his predecessor Robert Mugabe favoured lifting the moratorium on executions, arguing he was shocked by the number of murders in the country.

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