Malawi Legislators in support of death penalty abolition


Malawian members of parliament have come out in support of the calls to abolish death sentence and many of them have since opted for life imprisonment instead.

This follows a report by parliamentary committee on legal affairs which says having heard presentations from stakeholders, the Committee observed that the issue of death penalty abolition touches on the Constitution and the general feelings of Malawians.

The committee said it wants to conduct a thorough investigation before making a final recommendation on the death penalty abolition calls.

“The Committee having considered issues presented before it, regarding abolition of the death sentence, wishes to conduct an inquiry on the matter by involving a large sector of the society which include members of the general public, faith based communities or religious groups, political parties, Non-Governmental organizations and the international community,” reads part of the report.

However, several legislators who commented on the issue in one of last week’s parliament sessions said the death penalty is contrary to traditional and religious systems attributing to the holy bible which gives no person the authority to kill a fellow human being.

For instance, Member of Parliament for Mwanza West constituency, Joyce Chitsulo, said there is need to abolish the death sentence, arguing that this may one day see an innocent person who fails to defend oneself in a court of law, being a victim of the law.

Her sentiments were echoed by Blantyre North legislator, Francis Phiso, who said having no single record of execution for the past 30 years, is a clear indication that Malawi doesn’t need the death sentence.

“You may agree with me that since the coming in of multiparty system in Malawi, no single president has ever assented to death sentence. This is as good as just allowing it go and replace it with life sentence,” commented Phiso.

In his reaction, leader of the house Richard Chimwendo Banda while curtailing debate on the matter, agreed with Phiso that there is no need of having a law which is not working and he further added that there is need to repeal such laws.

On the other hand, Minister of Justice Titus Mvalo, described the death penalty as “an old and savage way of punishing somebody.” He, however, argued that there is really need for further consultation on the matter.

The August house adopted the report and it is expected that the legal affairs committee will soon launch an inquiry on the matter where of other activities include studying what other countries are doing regarding death penalty.

Commenting on issue, legal activist Alexious Kamangila who has been advocating for the abolition of the death sentence, described the recommendations by the parliamentarians as a great stride for true justice in Malawi.

Kamangila told Malawi24 that discussions on death penalty have been there in Malawi for decades and that it’s time to progress and he commended Minister Mvalo and Chimwendo Banda for their voices which he said gives hope for the abolition.

“The support given to the PLAC Report and recommendations on the death penalty by MPs is a great stride in the pursuit of true justice in Malawi. It gives a clear indicator that abolition is not a political suicide as at times presented. Malawi can soon become a leader in the region in the safeguard of the right to Life,” he said.

The legal activist further mentioned that his first expectation is to see the inquiry process as recommended by the legal affairs committee, being expedited.

Last year on April 28th, the Supreme Court of Appeal made a judgement in a case involving Charles Khoviwa v The Republic which saw judges declaring that capital punishment is unconstitutional in the country.

However, in a twist of events, the court made a U-turn on the matter saying it never abolished the death penalty and that High Court judges are free to sentence murder convicts to death claiming the issue was never brought before the court for consideration.