The majority of chiefs in the country no longer prefer death sentence as punishment for murder suspects, according to the Malawi Traditional Leaders’ Perspective on Capital Punishment Survey report.
Since the dawn of multi-party democracy in 1993, no Head of State has signed a death warrant despite the law providing for the same.
The report, published by the Cornell Center on the Death Penalty Worldwide and the Paralegal Advisory Service Institute (Pasi) with support volunteers and funding from Reprieve UK, shows that 94 percent of traditional leaders interviewed on whether Malawi should continue implementing death penalty said they were against capital punishment. Instead, they preferred other alternative sentencing.
One ex-prisoner, Bison Kaula, 65, who was sentenced to death in 1992, supported the report, saying many inmates in the country’s congested prisons are those charged with minor offences.
Kaula stayed in prison for 23 years awaiting execution after traditional leaders convicted him before the High Court acquitted him.
Public Affairs Committee (PAC) chairperson the Reverend Felix Chingota, whose quasi-religious body is taking part in facilitating consultations on death penalty issue, said in an interview that there is need to extend awareness campaigns to all communities in the country that death penalty is not the only best alternative sentencing measure against murder suspects.
Pasi executive director Clifford Msiska said the country should begin living in the global village alongside other nations which abolished death penalty.
The United Nations (UN) said more than 80 percent of the African Union member States have either abolished or introduced moratoria by law or in practice on the death penalty.
The survey was done in villages where ex-prisoners who were sentenced to death reside.