(NEW YORK) – Amnesty International said today reports that Zimbabwe has recruited a new hangman are “disturbing” and raise fears that the country may start executions after a seven-year hiatus.
Zimbabwe hasn’t conducted any executions since 2005, the same year that the last hangman retired, as there is only one hangman for the entire country.
“This macabre recruitment is disturbing and suggests that Zimbabwe does not want to join the global trend towards abolition of this cruel, inhuman, and degrading form of punishment,” said Noel Kututwa, Amnesty International’s southern Africa director.
Zimbabwe’s new draft Constitution, which will be put to a referendum in the next few months, exempts women, men under 21 at the time of the crime, and anyone over 70 from the death penalty. It also prohibits the imposition of the death penalty as a mandatory punishment.
While these proposed limitations to the application of the death penalty are welcome, Amnesty International calls for the death penalty to be fully abolished in the new Constitution.
“The death penalty is the ultimate denial of human rights. It is the premeditated and cold-blooded killing of a human being by the state,” said Kututwa. “We oppose the death penalty in all cases without exception regardless of the nature of the crime, the characteristics of the offender, or the method used by the state to kill the prisoner.”
Amnesty International, which has been campaigning to end the death penalty in Zimbabwe, is aware of at least 76 people currently on death row in the country. Of these 76, only two are women. The practical impact of the provisions under the current draft to exempt women would therefore not significantly reduce the use of the death penalty.
Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 3 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.