Zimbabwe goverment is to eradicate the death penalty as it backed legislation to do away with capital punishment nearly two decades after the last execution.
This was made known by the Information Minister Jenfan Muswere in a statement on Tuesday. adding that after holding countrywide consultations, the government decided to support a new law to end the pract
The southern African country has not had a hangman since 2005, but men found guilty of aggravated murder can still be sentenced to death. Dozens of convicts are currently on death row.
“Cabinet approved the abolition of the death penalty,” Muswere said in a statement.
“In view of the need to retain the deterrent element in sentencing murderers, it is expected that the new law will impose lengthy sentences without violating the right to life,” said Muswere.
In the case of murders involving “aggravating circumstances”, convicts could face “life sentences”, he added.
It was not immediately clear when parliament, where the ruling ZANU-PF party holds a large majority, will vote on the legislation.
Official figures revealed that 79 people have been executed in Zimbabwe since the country’s independence from British colonial rule in 1980.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa, 81, has been a vocal opponent of capital punishment since he was sentenced to death in the 1960s for blowing up a train during the guerrilla war for independence. The sentence was later commuted.
In 2022, some 87 countries still had the death penalty, but only 52 imposed death sentences and about 20 executed them, according to Amnesty International.