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Amnesty International Leads Mugabe Petition To Scrap Death Penalty

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By Staff Reporter

Harare, October 11, 2017 – AMNESTY International has joined forces with the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum to petition President Robert Mugabe to scrap the death penalty from the country’s statutes.

The rights based organisations are currently soliciting for signatures to galvanise national support around the initiative.

The petition launch also coincided with the World Day Against the Death Penalty commemorations on Tuesday.

In the petition, the organisations implore the head of state to consider that capital punishment was being scrapped throughout the world.

African countries, likewise, have legally abolished the death penalty or applied a de facto moratorium on capital punishment; only a minority of 17 States have retained the death penalty.

In their petition, the rights based groups also argue that the death penalty violated African systems of dealing with offenders.

“The death penalty is not a traditional penalty but a colonial relic,” reads the petition.

“Traditional customary law relied on restorative justice rather than retribution. For this reason the Council of Chiefs, in January 2016, urged that the death penalty be abolished. By abolishing the death penalty Zimbabwe would be making a clear break with its colonial past.”

The groups further implore the President to be guided by his party, Zanu PF’s 1980 election pledges to abolish the contentious method of punishment.

“The death penalty is not an effective deterrent against serious crime; this has been shown by research in many parts of the world. Without deterrence it becomes merely cruel and inhumane,” the petition further reads.

Amnesty International and its collaborating group also want Mugabe to appeal to his conscience as an African statesman to scrape the death penalty and curve himself a legacy of tolerance towards perpetrators of heinous crimes.

“In April 2015,” says the global rights group, “at its 56th Ordinary Session, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights adopted a draft regional treaty (the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Abolition of the Death Penalty in Africa) to help African Union member states move away from capital punishment and towards systems emphasising restorative justice rather than retributive justice.

“Your Excellency was Chair of the African Union when the draft was adopted, and Zimbabwe can seize the opportunity to lead other African States by example, progressively transforming our Continent’s penal procedures.

“By abolishing the death penalty you will leave an immortal legacy of your Presidency and leadership, not only in Zimbabwe but in Africa and the developing countries of the world.

“We therefore respectfully urge you in your clemency to grant this our petition.”

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