Zimbabwe Moves to Abolish the Death Penalty Following Nationwide Consultations

February 7, 2024
Death Penalty | Report Focus News
Death Penalty

In a significant shift towards human rights reform, Zimbabwe’s government has announced its decision to abolish the death penalty, a move that has been in the pipeline since the introduction of the Death Penalty Abolition Bill last year. This decision was confirmed during a post-cabinet briefing by Information Minister Jenfan Muswere, signaling a pivotal change in the country’s legal framework.

The announcement follows extensive grassroots consultations across 30 districts in Zimbabwe, demonstrating the government’s commitment to incorporating public opinion into its legislative decisions. The Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Hon. Ziyambi Ziyambi, played a key role in steering this initiative as the Chairperson of the Cabinet Committee on Legislation.

The cabinet’s decision to abolish capital punishment aligns with a growing global trend against the death penalty, emphasizing life imprisonment as the maximum sentence. This move is expected to retain the deterrent effect of severe sentencing for heinous crimes, including murder under specific aggravating circumstances, without infringing on the fundamental right to life.

Zimbabwe’s journey towards the abolition of the death penalty has been marked by a pause in executions since 2005, reflecting a de facto moratorium. The push for legislative change gained momentum with the introduction of a Private Member’s Bill aimed at amending the Criminal Law Code and the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act, spearheaded by discussions on the appropriateness of the death penalty both within Zimbabwe and in the international arena.

The countrywide consultations led by the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs highlighted diverse perspectives on the death penalty, capturing critical comments and views from various stakeholders. This inclusive approach has been instrumental in shaping the government’s stance on capital punishment.

Zimbabwe’s current constitution acknowledges the right to life, permitting the death penalty in limited scenarios for aggravated murder. The proposed legislative change marks a significant step towards aligning Zimbabwe with the majority of nations that have renounced the death penalty, reinforcing the country’s dedication to human rights and judicial reform.