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Committee calls for death penalty abolition

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Victor Mhango

By Wezzie Gausi:

Legal Affairs Committee of Parliament has called for the abolishment of the death penalty because it is in conflict with provisions of the Republican Constitution.

The committee’s chairperson Peter Dimba said this Tuesday when committee members interacted with civil society organisation leaders.

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Dimba said the committee had recently observed that there were conflicting statements on the death penalty, which had moved committee members to start engaging stakeholders on the issue.

“Since 1994, there has been no president in the country who has signed the death sentence. So, in essence, the law has been dormant for close to 27 years which, to us, shows that it is not useful.

“We will keep engaging different sectors on the matter. And we, as a committee, will call for a review of the Penal Code after thorough consultations,” Dimba said.

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Centre for Human Rights Education, Advice and Assistance Executive Director Victor Mhango said the death sentence impeded on the right to life.

“There are alternative punishments, notably life imprisonment, that one can get if they kill someone. The death sentence is inhuman and not suitable in this modern world.

“For your own information, one day in prison is equal to a year. Prison conditions are too bad. So, sending people to life imprisonment is the same as imposing a death sentence on them,” Mhango said.

University of Malawi Legal Clinic Manager Alexius Kamangila also supported calls to abolish the death sentence.

“Malawi is now sitting on the Human Rights Council of the United Nations; as such, if the country still has laws like the death penalty, it contradicts the whole idea of promoting human rights,” Kamangila said.

On April 28 2021, the Supreme Court of Appeal gave a judgement to the effect that the death penalty was unconstitutional.

The verdict called for amendment of all statutes that prescribe the death penalty.

But later the ruling was retracted over lack of proper procedures before coming up with the judgement.

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