Reasons for Mugabes call for death penalty ‘not solid’

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Harare – Human rights group, the Amnesty International has reportedly criticised Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe after he declared this week that he was in favour of resuming capital punishment in response to murder rates.

Mugabe, 93, on Wednesday said that although his cabinet was divided on the issue, he favoured lifting the moratorium on executions.

The last execution in the southern African country was in 2005.

“Let’s restore the death penalty,” Mugabe said.

But according to NewsDay, the Amnesty International described Mugabe’s remarks as “unfortunate and a great departure from the rest of the world, where the majority have abolished the death penalty”.

“It is a very unfortunate call and goes against the international trend where every country is going abolitionist and we remain in the minority,” Amnesty International Zimbabwe director, Cousin Zilala was quoted as saying.

Over 90 prisoners are on death row 

Zilala said that the reasons given by the nonagenarian in advocating to death penalty “were not solid”.

Zimbabwe’s law allowed for the death penalty for people convicted of murder “in aggravating circumstances”. Women and offenders younger than 17 and older than 70 were exempt from executions.

Over 90 prisoners were on death row, according to official figures.

The hangman’s job has been vacant in Zimbabwe for over a decade, but justice ministry permanent secretary Virgina Mabhiza said recent months had seen a “flood” of applications in the economically struggling nation. Mabhiza said more than 50 people had applied.

Zimbabwe imposed eight death sentences last year, according to Amnesty International. The human rights group said 97 people were known to be facing death sentences in the country as of the end of 2016.