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Sun Aug 02 22:23:36 SAST 2015

Zimbabwe's new hangman prompts fears of executions

Sapa-AFP | 08 February, 2013 13:49

Image by: Gallo Images/Thinkstock

Rights group Amnesty International on Friday expressed fears that Zimbabwe is poised to resume executions, following the appointment of a new hangman.

"This macabre recruitment is disturbing" said Noel Kututwa, Amnesty International's southern Africa director.

"(It) suggests that Zimbabwe does not want to join the global trend towards abolition of this cruel, inhuman and degrading form of punishment."

The remarks come after the government appointed a new hangman, seven years after the post fell vacant.

There are at least 76 people on death row in Zimbabwe according to rights groups, two of them women.

Zimbabwean judges can impose the death sentence for serious offences like murder and treason.

The last hangings were in 2005, the same year that the country's last hangman retired.

A draft constitution endorsed by the country's two main political parties exempts women, men under 21 and those over 70 from the death penalty.

The charter which will be put to a referendum also prohibits the mandatory imposition of the death penalty for certain crimes.

Amnesty said the death penalty should be abolished completely.

"We oppose the death penalty in all cases without exception regardless of the nature of the crime, the characteristics of the offender, or the method used by the state to kill the prisoner," said Kututwa

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