Zimbabwe on course to scrap death penalty

With support from the Centre for Applied Legal Research (CALR) and the Switzerland Embassy to Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe, the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs (MoJLPA) early last year held nationwide grassroots stakeholder consultations soliciting people’s views regarding the death penalty.

A report was produced by the Ministry which captured people’s views regarding the death penalty, with some for the abolishment and some for the upholding of the death penalty.

Cabinet has declared its support for the Private Member’s Bill to abolish the death penalty that was gazzetted by Parliament in December 2023

The Zimbabwe government is moving to abolish the death penalty in line with the dictates of the constitution where the sanctity of life is key. The Zimbabwe constitution protects the right to life but the law states that a court of law may permit in limited circumstances imposition of the death penalty on men who are convicted of aggravated murder.

Zimbabwe has been on a de facto moratorium on executions for 18 years, the last executions were done in 2005.

Calls have been made for the abolishment of the death penalty by some sections of society who feel that the death penalty is dehumanizing and subjecting inmates to death row is punitive.

Traditional leaders are of the view that we never had such a punitive system as our justice system was reconciliatory where those found guilty of murder had to appease the spirit of the dead person through compensation (kuripa ngozi). The system was based on reconciliation, ensuring social cohesion and harmony.

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