• Press Release

Zimbabwe: End the death penalty after 10-year execution hiatus

July 21, 2015

  • Authorities must declare formal moratorium on executions as first step towards abolition
  • 95 prisoners remain on death row in Zimbabwe

A 10-year hiatus in executions is a milestone for the protection of the right to life and the eventual abolition of the death penalty in Zimbabwe, said Amnesty International as the country marked a decade without executions.

Although the country carried out its last execution on July 22, 2005, there are still 95 prisoners on death row. Amnesty International is now calling on Zimbabwe to declare an official moratorium on executions and totally abolish the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment.

“Ten years without an execution is a notable milestone on the road to the abolition of the death penalty, but the shadow of the gallows still looms for 95 prisoners currently on death row in Zimbabwe,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Director for Southern Africa.

“The death penalty is a violation of the right to life and Zimbabwean authorities must take urgent steps to get rid of the hangman’s noose and abolish the death penalty altogether.”

Zimbabwe’s new Constitution, enacted in 2013, abolished mandatory death sentences and limited the death penalty to cases of murder “committed in aggravating circumstances.” It bars death sentences for women and men aged under 21 or over 70 at the time of committing the crime.

“There is no evidence that the death penalty is more of a deterrent to crime than other forms of punishment,” said Deprose Muchena.

“The world is moving away from the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment. Zimbabwe should permanently dismantle its machinery for execution and join the majority of the world’s countries by abolishing capital punishment.”


More than 100 countries around the world have abolished this cruel form of punishment and many more countries are abolitionists in practice.

Seventeen countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, including Angola, Burundi, Cape Verde, Côte d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Gabon, Guinea-Bissau, Mauritius, Madagascar, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Seychelles, South Africa and Togo have abolished the death penalty for all crimes.

In addition several other African countries have also taken legislative steps towards abolishing death penalty for all crimes.

Since June 2015 Burkina Faso has been considering a bill to abolish the death penalty. In 2014, Chad’s government adopted a draft penal code aimed at abolishing the death penalty, and the law is now awaiting a parliamentary process. In the same year, Sierra Leone announced its intention to abolish the death penalty. On July 16, 2015, Zambian President Edgar Lungu commuted the sentences of the country’s 332 death row prisoners to life imprisonment.