The Members of Parliament have on Wednesday shelved the deliberation of the Death penalty abolition proposal to next week.
Meanwhile, Legal affair committee of Parliament has approved the abolition of death penalty for those convicted of murder or arson.
Chairperson of the committee Peter Dimba told the house on Wednesday that at least 99% stakeholders have conveyed the support to the abolition of the penalty through a public enquiry that was formed.
He said that despite the Capital punishment permitted for murder, no execution has ever been carried out in the country.
“No President in Malawi has ever signed a death warrant to have those convicted with murder. We have the law but it’s not being applied,” said Dimba.
Malawi’s highest court last year outlawed the death penalty, ruling that “the death penalty, since it is a derogation from the right to life, is impermissible” under the nation’s constitution.
“The essence of the right to life is life itself—the sanctity of life. The right to life is the mother of all rights. Without the right to life other rights do not exist,” the court reasoned.
“Derogation from the right to life is prohibited directly and clearly by the Constitution,” the court wrote. Because “[t]he death penalty not only negates, it abolishes the right” to life, the court held that it violates Malawi’s constitution.
So far, life imprisonment is the maximum sentence in Malawi, reserved only “for the worst instance of crime.”
At the end of 2020, 27 people were known to be under a death sentence in Malawi. The nation’s highest court ordered that they must be re-sentenced, most likely to a term of years. “Those who have served long periods of their life or long sentences,” the court wrote, “are likely to get shorter terms or immediate release.”
In Malawi since 1975, no one has been executed
The nation’s first democratically elected president, Chair Bakili Muluzi, opposed capital punishment when he took office in 1994, and every president since has refused to sign any death warrants.
Across sub-Saharan Africa, recorded executions declined by 36% in 2019, from 25 to 16 in 2020, consistent with a robust global trend against capital punishment.
The number of executions worldwide in 2020 was the lowest recorded by Amnesty International in the past decade.