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Zimbabwe - Universal Periodic Review - Death Penalty - July 2021

Date: July 15, 2021
Country: Zimbabwe
Type: Intl Mechanism Submission
Issues: Death Penalty
Mechanism: Universal Periodic Review
Report Type: Stakeholder Report
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The Advocates for Human Rightstogether with The World Coalition Against the Death Penalty, Eleos Justice (Monash University), and Capital Punishment Justice Project, submitted a stakeholder report relating to the death penalty in Zimbabwe for the40th session of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review. 

Zimbabwe has a de facto abolition of the death penalty and has not carried out any executions since 2005. Courts, however, continue to sentence individuals to death, with 88 people currently on death row as of December 2020.It is not a party to the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The 2013 Zimbabwean Constitution replaced the mandatory death penalty with a discretionary sentence for the crime of murder under aggravated circumstances, and outlawed the imposition of the death penalty on women, men over age 70, and men under age 21at the time of the offenceSince 2016, developments have also demonstrated a more positive attitude among the public opinion toward further reform and abolition of the death penalty. Zimbabwe has not ratified the Convention against Torture or its Optional Protocol, though the 2013 Constitution provides for an absolute prohibition against torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. Despite efforts to improve detention conditions, Zimbabwe is far from implementing minimum international standards on prison and conditions of detention, considered to be harsh, unsanitary, and overcrowded. Additionally, due process rights guaranteed in the Constitution are also not enforced in practice.  

The authors of the report suggest the following recommendations for Zimbabwe: 

  • Abolish the death penalty and replace it with a sentence that is fair, proportionate, and in compliance with international human rights standards. 

  • Collaborate with civil society organizations to conduct a comprehensive public awareness- raising campaign to educate the public about international human rights standards as they pertain to the death penalty and alternatives to the death penalty. 

  • Ratify the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. 

  • Ratify the Convention against Torture and its Optional Protocol. 

  • Ensure that detention conditions comply with the Nelson Mandela Rules. 

  • Increase the resources available to the justice system to reduce overcrowding, including investing in infrastructure such as new detention facilities. 

  • Further decentralize the provision of legal aid and free legal representation in capital cases to all ten provinces to enhance access to justice.