AMNESTY International (AI) has commended Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa on his stance against the death penalty saying although the country has not totally abolished capital punishment, it was refreshing that executions have not been carried out.
BY OBEY MANAYITI
AI Zimbabwe director Cousin Zilala said Mnangagwa had on numerous occasions reiterated that he will not sign a certificate to execute anyone as long as he remained Justice minister, something that has given reprieve to the inmates on the death row.
He said Zimbabwe lost an opportunity to totally abolish the death penalty during the constitution-making process.
However, he said, it was commendable that alternative sentences have been preferred on some offences which used to attract capital punishment.
In 2014 alone, 10 inmates were sentenced to death, bringing to 95 the number of convicts on death row in Zimbabwe for different
Zilala said a notable positive achievement was that women were exempted from the death penalty in the country, but the exemption should be extended to men as well.
“What we are happy about is that there have not been executions and there have been commitments which were repeatedly made by the Minister of Justice (Mnangagwa) and one of the current Vice-Presidents, Emmerson Mnangagwa, that during his term, he will never sign a certificate to execute anyone,” Zilala said on Wednesday during the AI worldwide report on death sentences and executions in 2014.
“What it means is that there is a de facto moratorium by government. It means that there is not an official position by government that they will not execute anyone, but we have the minister responsible saying so.”
AI is an international organisation that advocates for the abolishment of the death sentence.
In its annual review of the death penalty worldwide, AI said there was an alarming number of countries using capital punishment to tackle real or perceived threats to State security linked to terrorism, crime or internal instability in 2014.