Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in the country have called on government to live up to its human rights commitments by abolishing the death penalty.
The CSOs made the call on Wednesday in Mauritania at the 62nd Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights.
The CSOs are Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR), Centre for Development of People (CEDEP) and Youth and Society (YAS).
Addressing the conference, CHRR Executive Director Timothy Mtambo reminded government of its commitments in both the constitution of Malawi and regional and international human rights treaties to abolish death penalty.
He said prisoners on death row in Malawi are confronted with the law’s harshest penalty and live under the constant shadow of death.
“[They are] separated from those serving other sentences, for 14 hours each day and are locked in cells with barred windows that are too high to allow them even a glimpse of the outdoors,” said Mtambo.
He then noted that the country has done well through the Kafantayeni project to resentence prisoners who were on death-row.
Malawi also has a moratorium on death penalty as no execution has been carried out since 1994.
But Mtambo observed that death penalty is still in the statues of Malawi which is regressive.
“It is not safe for the nation to continue relying on a moratorium and the goodwill of those in the office of the President on death penalty,” he said.
The activist then called on government to commute the sentences of the 21 prisoners remaining on death row.
He said commuting the sentences would be consistent with Malawi’s historical commitment to a moratorium and the practices of other African states.
“This would also relieve the suffering of those condemned to death and would spare their families and communities further anguish about their fate. Finally, it would reaffirm Malawi’s commitment to a de facto moratorium, in line with other countries in the region and the rest of the world,” he said.