Constitution Watch 19-2016

CONSTITUTION WATCH 19/2016

[14th September 2016]

Death Penalty Challenge in the Constitutional Court

Wednesday 28th September

 

Veritas’ third case to try and remove prisoners from death row will be heard by the Constitutional Court on Wednesday 28th September.  The case is Farai Lawrence Ndlovu & Another v Minister of Justice & Another (CCZ 50/2015).

What the case is about

The two applicants were sentenced to death shortly before the new Constitution came into force in 2013.  The argument on their behalf is that the new Constitution effectively abolished the pre-existing law that provided for the carrying out of the death penalty and the new law providing for the death penalty had not been enacted at the time the court application was filed.   Hence the argument is that they cannot now be executed because the law to be applied is the law as it existed at the time filing the application.

The court papers for the case are available on the Veritas website at this link.

Everyone who is concerned about the Death Penalty is urged to attend the court hearing

The court hearing will start at 9.30 am on Wednesday 28th
September

Constitutional Court – Cnr. Samora Machel Ave and Third St.

This is the third court case Veritas has undertaken to try and get prisoners off death row:

1. The first one is Chawira & Others v Minister of Justice & Others:  The applicants in this case have been awaiting execution for lengthy periods, some as long as 18 years.  The argument was that the prolonged wait, coupled with the appalling conditions under which the applicants have been incarcerated, amounts to cruel and inhuman treatment or punishment for the purposes of section 53 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.  The case was argued before the Constitutional Court on 13th January 2016 but the court has not yet given its judgment.

2. The second case is Dolosi v Minister of Justice & Another:  The applicant in this case was sentenced to death in 2014, shortly after the new Constitution came into force in 2013.  The argument, once again, is that the new Constitution effectively abolished the pre-existing law that provided for the imposition of the death penalty.  When the applicant was sentenced, therefore, the law under which he was sentenced no longer existed.  Heads of argument in the case have been filed and a hearing date in the Constitutional Court is awaited.

Veritas also took a case (Makoni v Commissioner of Prisons) to put an end to life imprisonment without parole.  Prisoners who are spared the death sentence through the President’s prerogative of mercy, usually have their sentences commuted to life imprisonment.  This would also apply to those who will be taken off death row if Veritas three court cases are successful.  In Zimbabwe life sentence was without the possibility of release on parole.  Internationally this is considered inhumane.  In July 2016 the Constitutional Court delivered its judgment upholding Veritas’s argument and declaring life imprisonment without parole to be unconstitutional.

The court papers in all these cases are available on the Veritas website at this link.

Veritas makes every effort to ensure reliable information, but cannot take legal responsibility for information supplied

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