Malawi Government has said although the country abolished the mandatory death sentence and no one has been executed since 1994, it is yet to remove the death penalty from its statutes.
Attorney General Anthony Kamanga, speaking in an interview in Malawi’s capital, Lilongwe, on Tuesday on the sidelines of a lawyers’ consultative seminar on the death penalty, said the death penalty has remained in the laws due to a majority consensus that the country is not yet ready to completely abolish capital punishment.
Said Kamanga: “During the last constitutional review, the issue came out and after thorough consultations and based on research, it was established that the majority feel we [the country] should maintain the death penalty. Even today, there is a strong feeling that a lot of Malawians would not want the death penalty abolished.”
Kamanga admitted that the issue of abolishing death penalty has been emotive not only in Malawi, but the world over and it would only be proper to let the debate continue before making a final decision.
He said at the moment, Malawi’s position, and following the 2001 amendment of the Penal Code, is that the imposition of the death penalty should be restricted to cases of murder.
He, however, said although that is the case even in the murder cases, the court is supposed to exercise its discretion depending on the surrounding circumstances of each case.
The seminar, which has drawn lawyers from both private practice and government institutions, is aimed at discussing and reflecting on the sentencing in capital offences and public interest litigation.