EDITOR — It’s not everyday that I agree with politicians, but for once I share the same sentiments with Emmerson Mnangagwa, minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, who said he was ready to resign from his Cabinet post in the event that he was forced to sign execution certificates for death row inmates.
He said he once escaped hanging on a technicality.
The country’s new constitution restricts the death penalty only to persons convicted of mutiny, treason and aggravated murder.
The new charter abolishes it in the case of women and minors under the age of 21 and elder people aged above 70 years.
Legal experts tell us that the risk of executing innocent people exists and there is no way to correct the occasional mistake.
I remember reading about Earl Charles, a man who spent over three years on Georgia’s death row for murders he did not commit.
Had Charles faced a system where the legal apparatus was speedier and the death penalty had been carried out more expeditiously, we would now be talking about an innocent late Charles.
What happens when the mistake is discovered after a man has been executed for a crime he did not commit?
What do they say to his widow and children? Do they erect an apologetic tombstone over his grave?
There have been and always will be cases of executions of innocent people.
No matter how developed a justice system is, it will always remain susceptible to human failure.
Unlike prison sentences, the death penalty is irreversible and irreparable.
Those against death penalty say it is incompatible with human rights and human dignity.
The death penalty violates the right to life which happens to be the most basic of all human rights.
It also violates the right not to be subjected to torture and other cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment. Furthermore, the death penalty undermines human dignity which is inherent to every human being.
The death penalty does not deter crime effectively.
The death penalty lacks the deterrent effect.
Support for the death penalty does not necessarily mean that taking away the life of a human being by the State is right.
It needs to be pointed out that public support for the death penalty is inextricably linked to the desire of the people to be free from crime. However, there exist more effective ways to prevent crime.