The appointment of Zimbabwe’s new hangman after a seven-year vacancy has raised concerns among human rights advocates that executions will resume inside the country.
The UK-based human rights group Amnesty International condemned the appointment and urged the Zimbabwean government to abolish the death penalty.
“This macabre recruitment is disturbing and suggests that Zimbabwe does not want to join the global trend toward abolition of this cruel, inhuman and degrading form of punishment,” Noel Kututwa, Amnesty International’s southern Africa director, said in a statement.
Zimbabwe currently has 74 men and two women on death row, while no executions have been carried out since 2005 when the last hangman retired.
Prison Service Commissioner Paradzai Zimondi told reporters during a recent tour of the Harare Remand Prison that the position had actually been filled in 2012.
"Indeed, we now have a hangman, but these people are still to be executed,” Zimondi said, according to Zimbabwean news outlet the Herald.
In total, Zimbabwe has around 16,900 inmates held in 46 prisons, Zimondi added.
New Constitution Could Determine Fate Of Death Penalty
Zimbabwe is set to hold a referendum on adopting a new constitution in the coming months. The current draft prohibits executions for men and women under 21 and over 70 years of age.
Amnesty welcomed the limitations on the death penalty but maintained its firm stance against it.
“The death penalty is the ultimate denial of human rights. It is the premeditated and cold-blooded killing of a human being by the state,” Kututwa said.
“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,” he added.