International human rights organization Amnesty International has commended President Emmerson Mnangagwa for commuting the death sentence on Zimbabwean prisoners to life in jail but has urged Mnangagwa to abolish the death penalty all together.
Mnangagwa granted amnesty to about 3 000 prisoners yesterday. Among those who will be released are male prisoners sentenced to life imprisonment before 28 February 1998 and female prisoners sentenced for the same on or before 31 December 2010 will also be released.
He also commuted death sentences to life imprisonment to all prisoners, who have been on death row for 10 years and above.
Muleya Mwananyanda, Amnesty International deputy Regional Director for Southern Africa said: “President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s has taken a very progressive step in deciding to spare the prisoners from the hangman’s noose. His action is commendable, but he must build on this positive momentum by ensuring that Zimbabwe abolishes the death penalty completely.
“Countries around the world, including in sub-Saharan Africa, are moving away from using the death penalty. There is no credible evidence that the death penalty has a greater deterrent effect on crime than imprisonment. We call on President Mnangagwa to move swiftly to establish an official moratorium on executions as a first step towards abolishing this cruel and inhuman punishment altogether.”
Mnangagwa, who himself was sentenced to death in the 1960s but was spared because of his age, has always been against the death penalty but the law still stands.
Zimbabwe has not carried out any executions since 2005.
Mnangagwa also granted amnesty to all female prisoners, regardless of the offence committed, except those sentenced to life imprisonment but some of these benefitted from the amnesty if they were sentenced on or before 31 December 2010.
Eighty-seven female prisoners were released from Chikurubi today.