We are currently assisting the local legal team in a number of constitutional cases currently before the Constitutional Court of Zimbabwe. The cases concern several important issues, namely, a challenge to the constitutionality of the death sentence on prisoners post-adoption of the new Constitution; a challenge to the imposition of a life sentence which breaches the protection provided in the Constitution; a challenge to the inhumanity of keeping prisoners on death row by reason of delay and a challenge to the imposition of corporal punishment on juveniles.
On 13 January 2016, the Constitutional Court heard the case of Chawira & Others v Minister of Justice & Others. The case was brought by 14 prisoners who have spent between 2 and 18 years on death row. It was argued that as a result of the prolonged periods spent on death row in uncertainty and torment under threat of execution, the carrying out of their sentences would constitute an inhuman and degrading punishment. Their sentences therefore fall to be commuted in accordance to the new Zimbabwe Constitution, adopted in 2013. Judgment is pending.
Related media articles
‘Death row inmates cry foul over jail conditions’, The Herald, 14 January 2016
‘Condemned inmates fight for life’, NewsDay, 14 January 2016