Chiefs in Malawi are against death penalty as an appropriate punishment for people convicted of murder.
According to results of a survey on death penalty released yesterday, 94 percent of chiefs want life imprisonment as a proper punishment for a person who has been convicted of murder.
The survey was conducted by the Cornell Center on the Death Penalty Worldwide and the Paralegal Advisory Service Institute (PASI) with funding from Reprieve UK.
When presenting the report in Lilongwe, PASI National Director Clifford Msiska said the survey targeted traditional leaders in the home villages of prisoners who had been sentenced to death and later released as a result of Malawi Capital Resentencing Project done by PASI and others organisations.
“In my view, prison is a place where we expect people to reform hence if somebody has been given death penalty it would defeat the purpose of reforming somebody,” he said.
Speaking at the event, Baison Kaula, a man who was released from prison through the same project said life is precious and giving a person death sentence puts a lot of people in trauma.
He went on to say that some people killed under the death penalty law were innocent though they were convicted of murder.
He then higlighted some of the challenges prisoners face.
“People spending their lives in prison are going through difficulties due to shortage of food, place to sleep and medical treatment. People are suffering in prison because they are voiceless,” he said.
Kaula who spent 23 years in jail and was acquitted by the high court added that it was like a dream that he came out of jail alive and started doing business like any other normal person.
Kaula was released after getting assistance through the Malawi Capital Resentencing Project which has assisted more than 150 people on death sentence to have their cases heard again.