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Stakeholders voice death penalty

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By Gary Samati

The Parliamentary committee on Legal Affairs convened twelve stakeholders in Blantyre today in a bid to solicit their views on the abolition of the Death Penalty which the country has in its laws.

From the twelve, ten stakeholders were of the view that the Law should be abolished.

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The Muslim Association of Malawi posed a different view, stating that the death penalty is ordained by the creator.

The sentiments were made by Sheriff Kaisi who represented the association during the enquiry, who further borrowed a leaf from the Old Testament in the Bible; giving examples of the times when God, according to The Book, allowed for death to be a punishment to some crimes.

“This is not the stand of the Muslim Association of Malawi but the stand of the Creator God himself. The Bible agrees with the Quran in the Old Testament that whoever takes the soul of a person must be given a death penalty. It is not an opinion of an organization but the decree of the Creator. Our argument is that the authorities need to ensure that they have done a thorough investigation before executing someone,” he said.

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While pleading for the abolition, an ex-murder convict, Kenneth Langanyiwa said the death penalty pose a threat to killing innocent inmates as well as those that stand a chance to reform.

However, Acting Registrar of the High Court Kondwani Banda said the judiciary is neutral on whether the death penalty should be abolished or not.

He said the government branch is only there to receive the law that is passed in the country.

The committee also held similar engagement with stakeholders in Lilongwe and Mzuzu recently.

Vice Chairperson of the Parliamentary Legal Affairs Committee, McDowel Mkandawire noted that most stakeholders are of the view that the Death Penalty should be abolished.

Mkandawire said the committee will now seek views from people in rural areas.

“Since we started our public hearing, most of the stakeholders are geared to have the death penalty abolished – with the exception of one or two. But this is just the beginning of our work. We now want to solicit views from the rural masses and constituencies; to hear what the people say about the death penalty,” he said.

Some of the stakeholders that were present during the Blantyre public hearing include the Malawi Prison Service, Malawi Police, University of Malawi students, Legal Aid Bureau and ex-convicts.

According to the Malawi Prison Service, the country has 22 inmates who are on death row, and no president has assented to the deaths of those inmates since 1994.

During the hearing, the Faculty of Law at Unima, indicated that the country executed 299 prisoners between 1976 and 1993 – but no president has assented to the death penalty since the dawn of the multiparty system.

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