Zimbabwe Scraps Death Penalty 19 Years After Its Last Execution

(Bloomberg) -- Zimbabwe’s cabinet agreed to abolish the death penalty for murder offences almost two decades after its last execution.

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The cabinet on Tuesday approved the Memorandum on the Private Member’s Death Penalty Abolition Bill introduced to parliament last year, bringing an end to the death penalty introduced in the southern African nation by British colonial administrators.

“To retain the deterrent element in sentencing murderers, it is expected that the new law will impose lengthy sentences without violating the right to life. The existence of aggravating circumstances may attract life sentences,” Information Minister, Jenfan Muswere, told reporters in the capital, Harare during a post-Cabinet briefing.

The southern African country last carried out an execution in 2005 and doesn’t have a hangman.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who once faced death row under Ian Smith’s white-minority government, against which he fought during the liberation war, has been a vocal opponent of capital punishment. His country now joins more than two thirds of the world’s nations that have abolished capital punishment in either law or practice.

--With assistance from Desmond Kumbuka.

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