Mugabe criticised over death penalty threats

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HUMAN rights organisations have described President Robert Mugabe’s threats to lift the moratorium on capital punishment as unfortunate and a great departure from the rest of the world, where the majority have abolished the death penalty.

Speaking at the burial of national hero Don Muvuti on Wednesday, Mugabe said despite some agreements in the Cabinet on the matter he was seriously considering reintroducing capital punishment for serious offences.

Amnesty International Zimbabwe director, Cousin Zilala said it was a sad development when momentum was gathering for capital punishment to be removed from the statutes.

“It is a very unfortunate call and goes against the international trend where every country is going abolitionist and we remain in the minority,” he said.

Zilala said the reasons proffered by Mugabe in advocating for death penalty like the high crime rate are not solid.

“The reasons do not make sense. As a country, we have never been abolitionist, yet, we still have high crimes. Executing people is not a deterrent, it actually cheapens lives. What he (Mugabe) misses is to increase apprehending of criminals, increased conviction rates and harsh sentencing that deter people and reduce crime,” Zilala added.

Zimbabwe in its 2013 Constitution took a step in abolishing capital punishment, when it said death sentences cannot be passed on any woman and males below 21 and above 70.

Last year, lawyer Tendai Biti approached the Constitutional Court to have 21 inmates on death row have their sentences commuted to life sentences. Biti argued that their prolonged stay on death row was inhuman.

Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights this year called on the government to repeal capital punishment from the statutes.

Amnesty International-Zimbabwe said evidence abounds that showed that countries that have removed death penalty like Canada and some States in the United States reduced rates of violent crimes and in Canada specifically the crimes had reduced by 45% since 1975.

Source: News Day

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