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October 12 2013 | ZIMBABWE

Zimbabwe – Minister of Justice Emmerson Mnangagwa's promise: the death penalty will soon be removed from the country's statutes

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Zimbabwe: Death Penalty to Go - Mnangagwa

By Innocent Ruwende, 11 October 2013

The death penalty will soon be removed from the country's statutes as the Government takes into account the views Zimbabweans expressed in the new Constitution concerning the law's relevance in safeguarding fundamental human rights. Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Cde Emmerson Mnangagwa yesterday said it was the Government's vision and the general feeling of the people that the death penalty should be abolished.

He was speaking during the commemorations of the International Day Against the Death Penalty in Harare.

"The new Constitution which came about as a result of a successful referendum by all Zimbabweans across the social and political divide, there is no doubt as to the direction the country is taking with regard to this form of punishment," said Cde Mnangagwa.

"As someone who has been on death row myself and only saved by an age technicality, I believe that our justice delivery system must rid itself of this odious and obnoxious provision.

"The mental torture occasioned by the mere knowledge that it is all over, coupled with the experience of being treated as the scum of society, bring with them utter hopelessness and despair.

"As a form of punishment, the death penalty has always attracted and continues to attract mixed feelings and reactions on its relevance in the various justice systems the world over. Zimbabwe is no exception to this contentious issue."

According to the new Constitution, a person who was below 21 at the time of committing murder or who was over 70 at the time of being sentenced to death, as well as female convicts, would be spared the death sentence. Previously, only pregnant women or those convicted of the murder of newly-born children were not being sentenced to death.

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