Zimbabwe Set to Abolish Death Penalty Amid Growing Momentum in Africa

Zimbabwe poised to abolish death penalty, joining growing African trend to end capital punishment, reflecting changing attitudes and alignment with human rights.

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Hadeel Hashem
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Zimbabwe Set to Abolish Death Penalty Amid Growing Momentum in Africa

Zimbabwe Set to Abolish Death Penalty Amid Growing Momentum in Africa

Zimbabwe is positioned to become the latest African country to abolish the death penalty , with President Emmerson Mnangagwa's cabinet agreeing to the measure that is expected to pass easily in parliament. Mnangagwa himself narrowly escaped execution as a young independence fighter in 1965 when a judge opted to spare his life. The move would see Zimbabwe join a growing number of African nations that have scrapped capital punishment in recent years, including Ghana, Sierra Leone, and the Central African Republic.

Campaigners believe there is momentum for the entire continent, abolish, death penalty. The drivers behind this wave of abolition include the view of capital punishment as a colonial-era legacy, shifting public opinion, and efforts to improve relations with international institutions. Legal challenges have also successfully limited the use of the death penalty in Africa, drawing on experiences from other Commonwealth countries.

Why this matters: The abolition of the death penalty in Zimbabwe and other African countries represents a significant shift away from a practice long seen as a vestige of colonialism. This growing momentum reflects changing attitudes and a desire for African nations to align with international human rights standards.

While the use of the death penalty is declining across Africa, it remains concentrated in a few countries, with Egypt, Somalia, and South Sudan carrying out executions in 2022. "Zimbabwe's joining the trend toward ending capital punishment is a positive step and an example for other countries in the region to follow," said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International's director for East and Southern Africa. As more African nations move to abolish the death penalty, it marks an important advancement in the protection of human rights on the continent.

Key Takeaways

  • Zimbabwe to abolish death penalty, joining growing African trend.
  • Drivers: colonial legacy, shifting public opinion, international relations.
  • Legal challenges limit death penalty use, drawing on Commonwealth experience.
  • Death penalty still used in Egypt, Somalia, South Sudan in 2022.
  • Abolition in Africa marks advancement in human rights protection.