Death Penalty Abolished in Zimbabwe
In response to a nationwide survey conducted by the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs and development partners last year, the government has taken the significant step of abolishing the death sentence in Zimbabwe. According to the Chronicle, the survey revealed that the majority of citizens no longer supported capital punishment.
Despite the present Constitution of 2013 limiting the potential use of the death penalty to aggravated murder by adult males under the age of 70, executions have not been carried out since 2005.
During a post-Cabinet media briefing, Information, Publicity, and Broadcasting Services Minister Dr. Jenfan Muswere announced that Cabinet had resolved to abolish the death penalty following extensive public consultations. Justice, Legal, and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi presented a report on the Memorandum on the Private Member’s Death Penalty Abolition Bill to Parliament in his capacity as the Chairperson of the Cabinet Committee on Legislation.
Dr. Muswere explained that instead of the death penalty, Cabinet had decided that individuals convicted of heinous crimes should face lengthy sentences without infringing on their right to life. The decision was made considering circumstances such as murder committed against specific individuals, including prison or police officers, minors, pregnant women, or during other serious crimes or pre-meditation.
He emphasized that the new law would impose lengthy sentences to serve as a deterrent against murderers, with aggravating circumstances potentially attracting life sentences.
The decision to abolish the death penalty aligns with international standards and extensive consultations conducted nationwide. A Private Member’s Bill introduced in the National Assembly aimed to abolish the death penalty through amendments to the Criminal Law Code and the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act.
Dr. Muswere noted that grassroots consultations were conducted in 30 districts across all 10 provinces, with support from the Swiss Embassy and the Centre for Applied Legal Research. The survey gathered diverse opinions from the public, both in favor of and against the death penalty.