10 death row in­mates freed

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - National News - Lloyd Gumbo in GENEVA, Switzer­land

ZIM­BABWE last week par­doned 10 in­mates who were on the death row after they re­quested for Pres­i­den­tial clemency while the re­main­ing 80 will also sur­vive the gal­lows if Gov­ern­ment re­solves to com­pletely abol­ish cap­i­tal pun­ish­ment for all crimes, Vice Pres­i­dent Em­mer­son Mnan­gagwa has said.

He said this dur­ing Zim­babwe’s pre­sen­ta­tion of its hu­man rights na­tional re­port un­der the aus­pices of the Univer­sal Pe­ri­odic Re­view on Wed­nes­day at the United Na­tions Cen­tre in Geneva, Switzer­land.

VP Mnan­gagwa, who is in charge of the Min­istry of Jus­tice, Le­gal and Par­lia­men­tary Af­fairs, was re­spond­ing to sev­eral calls from var­i­ous coun­tries who im­plored Zim­babwe to com­pletely abol­ish the death penalty.

But VP Mnan­gagwa said while the coun­try ac­cepted the rec­om­men­da­tion to abol­ish the death penalty at the last UPR in 2012, the ma­jor­ity of Zim­bab­weans who par­tic­i­pated dur­ing the Con­sti­tu­tion-mak­ing process said they wanted it re­tained.

He said Gov­ern­ment was, how­ever, un­der­tak­ing na­tion­wide pub­lic aware­ness cam­paigns to con­sci­en­tise Zim­bab­weans on the ef­fects of the death penalty.

VP Mnan­gagwa also dis­missed claims by some coun­tries that Zim­babwe had po­lit­i­cal pris­on­ers and de­tainees, say­ing that was not cor­rect.

“On the is­sue of the death penalty, may I share with you that for over a decade now, we have had no ex­e­cu­tions in Zim­babwe,” said VP Mnan­gagwa.

“Cur­rently, we have 90 in­mates un­der death penalty and last week in our Cab­i­net, we re­ceived 10 pe­ti­tions for clemency from the Pres­i­dent and all the 10 were granted.

“We then de­cided that I, as Vice Pres­i­dent re­spon­si­ble for the ad­min­is­tra­tion of jus­tice, should put a pa­per on the ques­tion of the abo­li­tion of the death penalty, which we have to de­bate.”

The Vice Pres­i­dent said the new con­sti­tu­tion only im­posed the death penalty on males aged be­tween 21 and 70 years who are con­victed of ag­gra­vated mur­der com­pared to the pre­vi­ous one that had a wider range of of­fences un­der, which one could be sen­tenced to death re­gard­less of gen­der.

But rep­re­sen­ta­tives from sev­eral coun­tries said it was crit­i­cal that the coun­try com­pletely abol­ish cap­i­tal pun­ish­ment.

“We rec­om­mend that Zim­babwe com­pletely abol­ishes the death penalty for all crimes and es­tab­lish a mora­to­rium on ex­e­cu­tions and to com­mute ex­pe­di­tiously death penal­ties by prison sen­tences,” said a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of Uruguay.

Por­tu­gal’s rep­re­sen­ta­tive said: “Por­tu­gal rec­om­mends Zim­babwe to es­tab­lish a mora­to­rium on the death penalty with a view to fully abol­ish it both in prac­tice and in law in all cases and un­der all cir­cum­stances.”

Rep­re­sen­ta­tives of Bel­gium and Slove­nia said not­with­stand­ing the Gov­ern­ment of Zim­babwe’s cam­paigns to con­sci­en­tise cit­i­zens about the ef­fects of the death penalty, it was im­por­tant that cap­i­tal pun­ish­ment is im­me­di­ately sus­pended.

Switzer­land said it was con­cerned with the over­crowd­ing and poor con­di­tions in pris­ons and asked how Gov­ern­ment in­tended to ad­dress the is­sue.

VP Mnan­gagwa said when­ever the prison pop­u­la­tion ex­ceeded hold­ing ca­pac­ity, Gov­ern­ment came up with var­i­ous in­ter­ven­tions in­clud­ing the trans­fer of in­mates from closed pris­ons to spa­cious farm pris­ons while oth­ers were re­leased through Pres­i­den­tial clemency.

Gen­er­ally, most of the coun­tries who spoke hailed Zim­babwe for im­ple­ment­ing the 130 rec­om­men­da­tions that it ac­cepted at the last UPR.

Nether­lands, Den­mark, Por­tu­gal, Rus­sia, Spain, Switzer­land, Swe­den, Ukraine, Great Bri­tain and Bel­gium are some of the Euro­pean coun­tries that con­grat­u­lated Zim­babwe for im­ple­ment­ing the rec­om­men­da­tions.

They hailed the con­sti­tu­tion for its ex­ten­sive Bill of Rights but urged Gov­ern­ment to en­sure that the law is im­ple­mented fully.

Mean­while, the Zim­bab­wean del­e­ga­tion will to­day re­ceive a com­pre­hen­sive list of new rec­om­men­da­tions.

Spikes throw­ing by traf­fic po­lice of­fi­cers al­most claimed lives just out­side the VID of­fices in Bu­l­awayo. The po­lice fled the scene after re­al­is­ing that the ve­hi­cle had over­turned. In­set, one of the pas­sen­gers shows the de­flated tyres after the car over­turned. The traf­fic po­lice had fled the scene when the Chron­i­cle news crew ar­rived at the scene.

VP Em­mer­son Mnan­gagwa

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