The 10th October is the day on which the United Nations every year urges countries of the world to abolish the death penalty.
Zimbabwe has not yet heeded the call, even though no one has been executed here since 2005. Our courts continue to sentence prisoners to death for murder, and these prisoners are kept in unspeakable conditions waiting for their sentences to be carried out, not knowing from one day to the next when they will be taken from their cells and hanged. As the courts continue to impose the death sentence more and more prisoners suffer this horrible fate.
Children, the Unseen Victims
It is not only the prisoners who suffer. This year we are asked to consider the innocent victims of the death penalty: the families of condemned prisoners, particularly their children. Children of condemned prisoners have committed no crime yet they are stigmatised by their communities and carry heavy emotional and psychological burdens. They especially deserve our pity.
The Death Penalty can Easily be Abolished in Zimbabwe
The Constitution allows, but does not require, the penalty to be imposed for murder committed in aggravating circumstances. All it needs to abolish the penalty, therefore, is a short Act of Parliament. A Bill for such an Act has already been drafted [link]. If the Government were to put forward such a Bill most members of the public would acquiesce because the death penalty is not part of Zimbabwe’s indigenous culture. The President and most Members of Parliament favour abolition: all that is needed is political will.
Veritas urges the Government to present such a Bill to Parliament and urges all Parliaments of good will to pass it without delay.
Zimbabwe Should Join the World in Abolishing the Death Penalty
- Out of the 195 member or observer states of the United Nations, only 55 keep the death penalty in law and in practice.
- Out of the 54 nations in Africa, only 15 continue to carry out the death penalty.
- More and more countries are abolishing the death penalty. It is time for Zimbabwe to do so.