Abolition of the Death Penalty
To: His Excellency the Honourable Robert Gabriel Mugabe, G.C.Z.M., President of Zimbabwe and Commander-in-Chief of the Defence Forces of Zimbabwe
We the undersigned Zimbabweans humbly and respectfully request you, as Head of State and Government and the authority in whom the Constitution of Zimbabwe vests the Power of Mercy, to direct your Government to take all necessary measures to abolish the death penalty in Zimbabwe.
We urge you to do this for the following reasons:
1. Throughout the world, and particularly in the continent of Africa, the death penalty is being abolished. The majority of African Union Member States have legally abolished the death penalty or applied a de facto moratorium on capital punishment; only a minority of 17 States have retained the death penalty.
2. Only three SADC States continue to carry out the death penalty: Botswana, the DRC and Lesotho. The other SADC States have either abolished it in law or do not carry it out in practice. In Zimbabwe there has been no execution since 2005, but persons are still sentenced to death and there are over a hundred prisoners languishing on “death row”, some for nearly 20 years.
3. The death penalty is not a traditional penalty but a colonial relic. Traditional customary law relied on restorative justice rather than retribution. For this reason the Council of Chiefs, in January 2016, urged that the death penalty be abolished. By abolishing the death penalty Zimbabwe would be making a clear break with its colonial past.
4. In the ZANU election manifesto in 1980 your Party pledged to abolish hanging.
5. The death penalty is not an effective deterrent against serious crime; this has been shown by research in many parts of the world. Without deterrence it becomes merely cruel and inhumane.
6. In April 2015, at its 56th Ordinary Session, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights adopted a draft regional treaty (the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Abolition of the Death Penalty in Africa) to help African Union member states move away from capital punishment and towards systems emphasising restorative justice rather than retributive justice. Your Excellency was Chair of the African Union when the draft was adopted, and Zimbabwe can seize the opportunity to lead other African States by example, progressively transforming our Continent’s penal procedures.
7. By abolishing the death penalty you will leave an immortal legacy of your Presidency and leadership, not only in Zimbabwe but in Africa and the developing countries of the world.
We therefore respectfully urge you in your clemency to grant this our petition.
You are invited to add your name to the petition to end the death penalty at this link.