EXTERNAL (for general distribution) AI Index: AFR 36/08/92
UA 101/92 Death Penalty 25 March 1992
MALAWI Winston Kabenthu
Wilson Mwale Ngozo
and four others (names unknown)
Amnesty International is concerned that the 11 prisoners named above, currently
under sentence of death in Zomba Central Prison, are at risk of imminent
execution. According to reports, their appeals against the sentences of death
have all been rejected by the court of appeal. A further four prisoners currently
held in Mikuyu Prison, whose names are not known, have had their appeals against
the death sentences rejected by the National Traditional Court of Appeal and
are also in danger of imminent execution.
It is not known to Amnesty International what offences the above 15 prisoners
were convicted of or when. The death penalty in Malawi is, however, mandatory
for prisoners convicted of murder or treason and may also be imposed for rape,
robbery with violence, house-breaking or burglary. Offences carrying the death
penalty are usually tried in so-called "traditional courts" where the defendant
does not have the benefit of many of the internationally recognized safeguards
for a fair trial. When appeals are rejected in the courts of appeal, clemency
may be granted by the President as Head of State.
Executions of prisoners under sentence of death resumed in January 1991 in
Malawi when at least three people were hanged at Zomba Central Prison. A further
six men and two women were executed there in August 1991. Executions had not
taken place for some months, apparently because of a financial dispute between
the authorities and the executioner, a South African national who is employed
by the Malawian Government to visit Malawi for this purpose. Details of
executions are not published but these are believed to take place at least
twice a year.
Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all circumstances, believing
it to be the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment and a violation
of the right to life.