Retaining Death Penalty Is Retrogressive: Amnesty International

Amnesty International Zimbabwe has expressed concern over President Robert Mugabe’s remarks that the recent rise in murder cases in the country must be dealt with through the retention of the death penalty.

Amnesty International Zimbabwe Director, Cousin Zilala said retaining the death penalty is retrogressive as 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” said Cousin Zilala.

He added that whilst the President was of the view that the recent increase in the number of murder cases was as a result of the non- existence of the death penalty, this is not true as Zimbabwe is still not an abolitionist state but murder cases are on the increase.

He urged the state to scrap the death penalty citing the South African Constitutional court in the case of the State vs Mwakwanyane, where the court determined that the death penalty should be abolished.

The court noted; “We should move away from this simplistic view that by allowing the state to kill a few people we can rid our society of violence. 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,” he said.

He said Zimbabwe should 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,” added Zilala.

Addressing mourners at the burial of the late national hero, Don Muvuti at the National Heroes Acre in Harare on Wednesday, President Mugabe said he would soon force his way and restore the death penalty.

“I think let’s restore the death penalty,”

“People are playing with death by killing each other,” he said. “Is this why we liberated this country?

“We want this country to be a peaceful and happy nation, not a country with people who kill each other.”