A Social justice activist says the abolition of the death penalty is an answer to prayers of poor Malawians who were sentenced to death.
Alexious Kamangila, an activist who volunteers for the Community of Sant’ Egidio and advocates against death penalty, said the death penalty only targets the poor Malawians who cannot afford proper legal representation.
He added that this is a good development to people who were more likely to face death penalty just because of poverty.
“The declaration of the unconstitutionality of the Death Penalty was only a matter of time, because the same right to life granted by Section 16 and declared unlimited under Section 44, was not only limited but completely removed by the Penal Code, and the proviso of the Section was rendering the same Constitutional.
“The Courts brevity is recommendable, as it was in the Election Petition, Malawi continues to be a leader in key decisions regionally and globally. We are excited because this Judgement answers the Prayers of so many poor persons facing the death penalty,” said Kamangila.
Kamangila also said that the death sentence did not necessarily deter criminal activities, adding that other forms of punishment were good enough.
Meanwhile, the Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) through its Facebook page, has also commended the ruling describing it as progressive.
On 28, 2021, a panel of seven judges of the Supreme Court of Appeal ruled that death sentence is unconstitutional because it abolishes a right to life and that it is against international human rights standards.
This followed an appeal by Charles Khoviwa who was in September 2003 convicted of murder and he was sentenced to death. In his appeal, he argued that he was entitled to a re-sentencing hearing.
The Supreme Court agreed, in an 8-1 decision, and ruled that not only that all prisoners on death row should be re-sentenced, but also that no further death sentences should be imposed to anyone in the country.
This means that a life sentence will be the highest punishment in Malawi a development which has excited most justice and human rights advocates in the country.
It also means that the nine people who had been sentenced to the mandatory death penalty and denied a right to resentencing, should be immediately be given one and additionally, all 27 people who are currently on death row are entitled to a resentencing hearing.
With this, Malawi now becomes the 22nd sub-Saharan country to abolish the death penalty and has joined South Africa and Mozambique as a leader of the abolition movement in southern and eastern Africa.