David Simelane won't be killed
MBABANE Chief Mgwagwa Gamedze, Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, has said Swaziland is not ready to abolish the death penalty. However he said the right to life was protected by the Constitution.
The minister said capital punishment was not mandatory in the country because it may be imposed only on adults convicted of murder without extenuating circumstances. He said the ultimate punishment may be carried out only pursuant to a final judgment pronounced by the Supreme Court. The minister said this when he addressed the 19th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review for Swaziland in Geneva, Switzerland three weeks ago.
He was responding to recommendations made by countries such as France. The recommendations were made at the initial meeting held in December last year where Swaziland was urged to accede to the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and abolish the death penalty. Gamedze said for the time being, the Kingdom was not ready to accede to convention. The minister said in Swaziland, the death penalty was not being implemented and was last carried out in 1983. Further to this, he said, sentences in 42 of the 45 death penalty cases had been commuted to life imprisonment over the years.
He said Swaziland considered the practice of not implementing the capital punishment to be adequate against the United Nations Optional Protocol as called for by many countries. The minister said in effect, Swaziland, though a retentionist State in law was abolitionist in practice. The country’s stand on this issue means that the three prisoners currently on death row will not be killed. They will most probably spend life in jail. They include serial killer David Simelane, Mandla Maphalala (who has complained of being on death row for over 13 years) and one Maphosa. Meanwhile, the minister’s presentation on this matter was lauded by France.
The French welcomed Swaziland’s de facto moratorium on the death penalty (the halt of implementing the death penalty).
However, they noted that death penalty sentences continued to be pronounced. Switzerland expressed alarm at the many allegations of extrajudicial executions and torture committed by the security forces in Swaziland and stated that victims should receive justice. "All deaths were investigated by the law enforcement officers.
Where there was sufficient evidence, criminal proceedings were instituted. torture was unlawful hence the acceptance of the recommendation to accede to the Optimal Protocol to the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment," the minister responded. Addressing the other concerns as highlighted in the first meeting held in Geneva December last year, Minister Gamedze said about 90 per cent of overall recommendations made during Swaziland’s Universal Periodic Review in 2011 received favourable responses from the Government.
It's not good for the country to let David off the hook. The state must hurry do the job before these laws are effected.
Apr 1, 2012, 10:46 AM, Pat (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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