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'Zimbabwe's Patriot Act smuggles in death penalty'

by Staff reporter
11 Oct 2023 at 06:23hrs | Views
There is growing concern that an amendment to the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act, also referred to as the Patriot Act, is attempting to reintroduce the death penalty through indirect means, just as human rights advocates are actively working to eliminate it from the nation's legal framework.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa signed the Patriot Act into law in July of this year, despite widespread criticism of its severe provisions. During the International Death Penalty Day observance in the capital, legislative watchdog Veritas and Amnesty International (AI) expressed their apprehensions about the law.

This day is marked every year on October 10. Zimbabwe is among the 87 countries that have yet to abolish the death penalty.

Val Ingham-Thorpe, the director of Veritas, emphasized the urgency of eliminating the death penalty from the country's legal framework. She remarked, "The death penalty and the Patriot Bill are entirely unconstitutional. This goes against the Constitution and is inhumane. We will challenge this in court."

"In our country, we have very unusual provisions," she added. "Removing the death penalty without a referendum is very challenging. Therefore, we have taken the issue to Parliament through a petition, seeking to persuade them on this matter. We are currently awaiting a response."

Roselina Muzerengi, the AI campaign coordinator, echoed these sentiments, noting, "Some countries have abolished laws that support the death penalty. However, in Zimbabwe, the death penalty remains intact. The Patriot Bill has effectively reintroduced the death penalty."

According to Section 48 of Zimbabwe's Constitution, the High Court can impose the death penalty on any man aged between 21 and 70 who commits murder in aggravating circumstances. Nonetheless, no executions have occurred for individuals on death row in the past 15 years.

Veritas has previously proposed a retrial for all death row inmates, as part of their latest efforts to push for the abolition of the death penalty in Zimbabwe.

Source - newsday
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