United Nations (UN) resident co-ordinator Bishow Parajuli has cited the death penalty as one of the critical issues which needs swift abolishment as the country under the new dispensation led by President Emmerson Mnangagwa revisits its stance on upholding human rights.
Speaking at a Universal Periodic Review (UPR) stakeholders meeting in Harare yesterday, Parajuli cited the death penalty as one of the sticky issues that Zimbabwe needs to look at if its leaders were committed to upholding good practices in human rights compliance.
“Allow me to mention areas were more could be done and these are critical human rights issues which need attention including the total abolishment of the death penalty which am sure Zimbabwe can do with the highest level of leaders commitment,” he said.
Of the 260 recommendations of the UPR’s forwarded to Zimbabwe to which abolishment of the death penalty is one of, the country has accepted only 150 of them and partially adopted an additional six.
“Let me underline the UN’s commitment for support to the government and the civic society in facilitating the implementation of the UPR recommendations and in the promotion of human rights,” Parajuli said.
Although capital punishment is recognised by the country’s laws, since 2005 when the country’s last hangman died there has been no execution, despite calls by former President Robert Mugabe to activate the law in order to deal with ongoing cases of murder.
Earlier this year President Emmerson Mnangagwa who is critical of the death sentence invoked the provisions of section 112 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe to commute to life imprisonment the death sentences of prisoners on death row for more than 10 years.
The country’s 2013 Constitution only exempts women from the death penalty together with males under 18 and over 69 years old and human rights groups that include Amnesty International have often called for the total abolishment of capital punishment.