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Cabinet approves removal of death penalty

By Tapiwa Svondo

Cabinet on Tuesday approved the abolishment of the death penalty which has been used by judges to punish convicts in cases of aggravated murder.

This follows public consultations and debate in parliament on the continued use of the colonial era law.

Information minister Jenfan Muswere told a post-cabinet media briefing in Harare Tuesday that the Private Member’s Death Penalty Abolition Bill which is the basis of the policy direction seeks to “impose lengthy sentences without violating the right to life”.

“Cabinet considered and approved the Memorandum on the Private Member’s Death Penalty Abolition Bill, which was presented by the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Hon. Ziyambi,” Muswere said.

Ziyambi as the Chairperson of the Cabinet Committee on Legislation.

“The nation is informed that a Private Member’s Bill was introduced in the National Assembly, and its main purpose was to abolish the death penalty in Zimbabwe through the amendment to the Criminal Law Code and the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act,” the minister said.

“Following ongoing debates locally, regionally and internationally on whether or not the death penalty should be abolished, the Government of Zimbabwe through the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs conducted countrywide grassroots consultations in 30 districts of Zimbabwe, three (3) districts per each of the ten provinces, after which a Report was produced.

“From these consultations, critical comments and views were expressed for, and against the death penalty.

“Cabinet approved the abolition of the death penalty and agreed that the circumstances attracting death penalty options include where the murder is committed against a prison or police officer, or minor or pregnant woman; or it is committed in the course of other serious crimes or where there was pre-meditation.

“In view of the need to retain the deterrent element in sentencing murderers, it is expected that the new law will impose lengthy sentences without violating the right to life.

“The existence of aggravating circumstances may attract life sentences.”

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