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Mugabe offside on death penalty: Amnesty

By Staff Reporter

WORLD top rights lobby, Amnesty International has slammed President Robert Mugabe for holding “simplistic” impressions the imposition of the death penalty on offenders was the best method of deterring violent crime.

Addressing mourners during the burial of late nationalist Don Muvuti on Wednesday, President Mugabe bemoaned the continued commission of rape against children and murders.

He was unequivocal in his support of capital punishment although admitting he differed with his deputy Emmerson Mnangagwa, among some of his government colleagues opposed to the controversial punishment.

But Amnesty International-Zimbabwe, which has staged a protracted campaign against capital punishment, said Thursday that the Zimbabwean leader was “offside” on the death penalty.

In a statement, Amnesty International Zimbabwe Director, Cousin Zilala said retaining the death penalty in the country’s statutes was retrogressive as the majority of countries in the world have now abolished this cruel punishment.

“The death penalty is a violation of the right to life. It is the ultimate denial of human rights and the premeditated and cold-blooded killing of a human being by the state.

“There is no credible evidence that the death penalty has a greater deterrent effect on crime than prison terms,” he said.

Zilala said there was no evidence to suggest death was a deterrent against violent crime as “Zimbabwe is still not an abolitionist state but murder cases are on the increase”.

He urged the state to scrap the death penalty also citing the South African Constitutional court which once said imposing death on murderers was a “simplistic view that by allowing the state to kill a few people we can rid our society of violence”.

Rather, the court said, strong evidence exists demonstrating that violent crimes can be reduced significantly by allocating more resources towards better training, equipping and remunerating the police to be effective in detecting and responding to crime.

Zilala, similarly, urged Zimbabwean authorities to improve by having a well-trained police force that can increase its rate of crime detection and prosecution..

Furthermore, Zilala highlighted that Zimbabwe should eradicate poverty which results in the increase of these cases as it has been noted that most victims of this harsh punishment are the poor who do not have access quality legal practitioners.

“Amnesty International Zimbabwe continues to urge the government to immediately establish an official moratorium on executions and steer the country towards joining the global and regional trend of abolishing the death penalty,” said the group.

Although the death penalty is prescribed in the country’s constitution, it has been years since the country last executed an offender with government claims no Zimbabwean was volunteering to take up the job of hangman.

But it emerged past few days that over 50 locals have since applied for the job.

Gary Murambiwa
the authorGary Murambiwa