Patriot Act Quietly Revives Death Penalty

by Adenike Adeodun

Controversy swirls around a provision in Zimbabwe’s recently amended Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act, known as the Patriot Act, that seems to covertly reintroduce the death penalty. This comes as human rights activists ardently call for the abolition of capital punishment from the nation’s legal framework.

According to a report by Newsday Zimbabwe, President Emmerson Mnangagwa enacted the Patriot Act in July, despite significant criticism labeling it as severe.

During the International Death Penalty Day, commemorated every October 10, legislative watchdog Veritas and global human rights organization Amnesty International (AI) expressed their apprehensions about the law.

While 87 nations, including Zimbabwe, retain the death penalty, many feel it’s time for Zimbabwe to shift its stance. Val Ingham-Thorpe, the director of Veritas, insisted on the removal of the death penalty, declaring it “unconstitutional and inhumane.” She added, “We have presented the issue to Parliament through a petition, and we await their response.”

Echoing Ingham-Thorpe’s sentiments, AI’s campaign coordinator, Roselina Muzerengi, mentioned, “While some countries have scrapped laws endorsing the death penalty, Zimbabwe persists with it. The Patriot Bill appears to have subtly incorporated the death penalty.”

As per Zimbabwe’s Constitution, Section 48, men aged between 21 and 70 found guilty of committing murder under specific circumstances can face the death penalty. Interestingly, no executions have taken place in the country over the past 15 years.

In its continuous advocacy against the death sentence, Veritas previously suggested a retrial for all inmates on death row in Zimbabwe.

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