Government intends to abolish death penalty

By Dean Chisambo

The government has said it is intending to abolish the death penalty which has been in the Malawi constitution even though no execution has taken place since 1992 when it was implemented.

Speaking during the commemoration of World Day Against The Death Penalty, Minister of Justice Titus Mvalo said everything that is needed to be done has been done and what is remaining is to draft the bill which they will pass to cabinet committee and parliament for implementation.

Mvalo said, ” Through the consultation, the meetings we have had shows that the majority view is in favour of abolishing the death penalty and there are also strong voices against it.

In her remarks Malawi Human rights commission (MHRC) Commissioner Habiba Osman said the commission has been involved in the Fanten project at particular time when some prisoners were released saying it was the same project which exposed the matters relating to death penalty that they are not incompliance with country’s constitution, vision and human rights standards.

On his part, Legal Aid Bureau Director general Trouble Kalua said homicide matters are challenging in the sense that they are handled by the office of Director of public prosecution (DPP) and the courts and legal aid comes in as the third supporting party to process. If the state is not ready with prosecution ,it is always difficult to proceed with the matter.

Kalua went further to say Malawi as a country need to take a stand on whether we want a death penalty which even though is in our constitution but we are not acting ok it “Apart from the sentence itself been inhuman, we torture the people on death row further by mentally subjected them to the fact that they are going to get killed at any point and yet they will not, which is a double punishment to those that have been sentenced to death.”

On his part human rights lawyer Alexious Kamangila said the government of Malawi has shown its interest in protecting the right to life saying the right to life is mother of rights.
He said: ” so as advocacy we will continue to engage different stakeholders including the people to civic educate them on what it means by abolishing the death penalty.

Mvalo (L) chating with Kamangila (R) at Maula prison after the end of the World Again The Death Penalty

“It doesn’t mean that a person who has killed someone will be innocent or will be free no. They will be punished heavily but not killed through the death penalty.” Argued Kamangila

On his remarks Inkosi ya Makosi Gomani five said it is a pitty that death sentence is still used, but not being implemented which is inhuman saying the death penalty brings anxiety and grief to the communities especially members of the family that are related to the person that are put on death sentence.

One of the ex- convict who was sentenced to death penalty two decades ago but was released through Fanten project of MHRC former Member of Parliament Nasser Kara said death penalty is a serious issue saying it was not an easy journey for him during his life in imprisonment

He later further hailed the MHRC for coming up with Fanten project that saved him from prison as well as facing the death penalty.

The World Day Against The Death Penalty was commemorated under the theme ” A Road Paved With Torture”