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Zimbabwe urged to abolish death penalty

Speaking at a breakfast meeting marking International Human Rights Day in Harare last Friday, AI researcher Simeon Mawanza said more than 60 years after the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the trend towards worldwide abolition of the death penalty was unmistakable.

He said although some steps have been taken since independence in 1980, Zimbabwe remains in a minority of less than one third of countries in the world that retain the death sentence in law or in practice

“Political leaders in Zimbabwe need to present effective means of managing crime that do not endorse or contribute to further violence, continue the cycle of violence, or create more misery through violence,” said Mawanza.

He said crime may be reduced through having better trained and equipped police officers, eradicating poverty and improving education, among other things.

Mawanza urged political parties, civil society organisations and the general public to deploy every effort that could lead to the abolition of the death penalty in Zimbabwe.

He said the death penalty was a violation of the right to life and the right not to be subjected to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
These rights recognised in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international human rights instruments to which Zimbabwe is a state party.

Africa is largely free of executions, with only four of the 54 states known to have carried out executions in 2009 being Botswana, Egypt, Libya and Sudan.

Zimbabwe last carried out executions in 2005, but a number of people are still on the death row. There are about 60 inmates on death penalty in the country.

AI, which is this year celebrating its 50th anniversary, believes death penalty as a crime prevention method does not offer a solution to the problem of crime.

Scientific studies have shown that countries such as USA have retained capital punishment but still experience high crime rates. Meanwhile, ZimRights executive director Okay Machisa said as the country commemorated International Human Rights Day on December 10, law enforcements agents should stop harassing the country’s citizens.

He also called on political parties to respect each other and exercise peace and tolerance.

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