Zimbabwe death row inmates challenge sentences
Zimbabwe death row inmates challenge sentences

[JURIST] More than a dozen death row inmates in Zimbabwe on Sunday submitted a plea to the nation’s constitutional court through a local NGO, arguing that their death sentences are unconstitutional. The inmates have spent between four and 20 years on death row [All Africa report] for murder charges. The substance of the inmates’ claim rests in sections 48, 51, and 53 of the Zimbabwe Constitution [text, PDF], which guarantee citizens a right to life, a right to human dignity, and protection from cruel and unusual punishment. In July Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] urged Zimbabwe toend the death penalty [AI report] after a 10-year execution hiatus. According to AI, there are 95 prisoners on death row in Zimbabwe. The last execution occurred in July 2005.

The death penalty has been a controversial issue worldwide. Last week a sharia high court in Nigeria sentenced [JURIST report] cleric Abdulaziz Dauda and nine others to death by hanging for committing blasphemy against the Islamic Prophet Muhammad. Earlier last week officials in Saudi Arabia announced that the government had executed 47 prisoners convicted of terrorism charges [JURIST report], including al Qaeda detainees and a prominent Shiite cleric who rallied protesters against the government. Last August the Law Commission of India recommended [JURIST report] that the death penalty be abolished as a mode of punishment for all crimes except terrorism. In April AI reported there was an alarming rise in death sentences [JURIST report] around the world in 2014. The advocacy organization said that there has been a 28 percent rise in death sentences from 2013 and that an increased number of countries used capital punishment to deter crime, terrorism and domestic instability.