There are indications that capital punishment may be abolished from the country’s statues after a majority of members of Parliament (MPs) supported a report on the matter.
During the just-ended meeting of Parliament, the Parliamentary Legal Affairs Committee presented a report to lobby the House to support the abolition of the death penalty and its report received support from the majority of the legislators that spoke. There were, however, others who still wanted the death penalty maintained.
Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Titus Mvalo, commenting on the death penalty, described it as an old and savage way of punishing somebody.
He nevertheless said there was need for further consultations on the matter.
On the other hand, Leader of the House Richard Chimwendo Banda, while curtailing debate on the matter, agreed with those that supported abolition of the death penalty, arguing there was no need to have such a law when it has not been applied for decades.
Legal Affairs Committee chairperson Peter Dimba said in a written response to a questionnaire that his team was carrying out consultations after legislators reacted differently to the report, but with the majority supporting the abolition of the death penalty.
He said: “What we presented was a report of the committee after interfacing with advocates for abolition of death penalty…and we said in the report that the issue of death penalty abolition still remains controversial.
“Others are in support while others are opposing and so we said as a committee, we will do wider consultations with various stakeholders including members of the general public and present a thorough report to Parliament in due course.”
The report quoted our sister newspaper, Nation on Sunday which conducted a survey that showed that about 66 percent of the MPs interviewed supported the abolition of death sentence.
Alexious Kamangila, death penalty abolition proponent, said in a response to a questionnaire that he was happy with the support given to the report by parliamentarians.
“This is a great stride in the pursuit of true justice in Malawi. It gives a clear indicator that abolition is not a political suicide as at times presented,” he said.
Kamangila said President Lazarus Chakwera is the head of Sadc and Malawi sits on the Human Rights Council, so it will be a great sign of leadership for Malawi if we were to abolish death penalty.
Centre for Human Rights, Education, Advice and Assistance executive director Victor Mhango also supported the Legal Affairs Committee move to make further consultation on the matter and he expressed happiness that the matter generated a health debate in Parliament.
He said in an interview there was still need to raise awareness to the communities to sensitise them to what is going on.
Out of 131 MPs Nation on Sunday interviewed, 87 said they would support abolition of the death penalty.
The death penalty debate that time came after the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal judgement of August 18 2021 clarified that the country never abolished the death penalty.