Death penalty on the death row

Source: Death penalty on the death row | The Herald February 1, 2019

Death penalty on the death rowMr Charles Manhiri from the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs chats with directing staff at Zimbabwe Staff College during a public lecture in Harare yesterday. — Picture by Innocent Makawa

Fidelis Munyoro Chief Court Reporter
Government has shown its commitment towards abolishing the death penalty in line with international human rights obligations after it commuted sentences of 34 inmates on death row to life terms, a Cabinet minister has said.

There are 81 prisoners on death row while the total number now serving life terms is now 127.

The process of commuting the remainder on death row to life terms is now ongoing.

The moratorium on execution will pave way for the total abolition of the death penalty, according to a paper presented on behalf of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi by a senior ministry official, Mr Charles Manhiri, at the Zimbabwe Staff College yesterday.

Government is in the process of implementing strategies and policies aimed at abolishing the death penalty.

Minister Ziyambi said his ministry was waiting for Cabinet to approve its recommendations on the death penalty.

“Should Cabinet approve the ministry’s recommendation to abolish the death penalty, the constitutional provision which permits the imposition of the death penalty will be subsequently amended,” said Minister Ziyambi.

He said Government has not executed inmates on death row for over a decade now.

The last execution was carried out in July 2005. Executed then were notorious armed robbers Steven Chidumo and Edmund Masendeke.

Minister Ziyambi said his ministry on several occasions requested Cabinet to consider the granting of clemency on those sentenced to death. This has seen the sentences being commuted to life imprisonment.

“As Government we are mindful of the fact that the rights to life and dignity are the most important of all human rights and the source of all other personal rights contained in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHRs),” he said.

Minister Ziyambi said the death sentence was cruel and degrading punishment as it destroyed life and annihilated human dignity.

“Criminological researches have revealed that the death penalty does not deter the commission of crimes, but rather compounds it,” he said.

Minister Ziyambi said the possibility of the sentence being imposed on innocent people could not be ruled out and once executed, sentence is irrevocable.