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UA 101/92 - Malawi: death penalty: Winston Kabenthu, Style Phiri, Tobet Kamwendo, Leston Simba, Davison Maponda, George Sukali, Wilson Mwale Ngozo, Thenson Thomas, Lyson Nkhoma, Laurence Zuze, Bonfasio Petro and four others (names unknown)

, Index number: AFR 36/008/1992

EXTERNAL (for general distribution) AI Index: AFR 36/08/92
Distr: UA/SC
UA 101/92 Death Penalty 25 March 1992
MALAWI Winston Kabenthu
Style Phiri
Tobet Kamwendo
Leston Simba
Davison Maponda
George Sukali
Wilson Mwale Ngozo
Thenson Thomas
Lyson Nkhoma
Laurence Zuze
Bonfasio Petro
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.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/telexes/faxes/airmail letters:
- urging that President Banda exercise his presidential prerogative of clemency
to commute the death sentences imposed on these 15 prisoners;
- stating that Amnesty International is concerned that at least 11 executions
were carried out during 1991;
Page 2 of UA 101/92
- explaining Amnesty International's unconditional opposition to the death
penalty in all cases;
- mentioning one or more of the following:
- there is no proven evidence to show that the death penalty deters crime
more effectively than other forms of punishment;
- Amnesty International believes that executions have generally a
brutalizing effect on society as a whole;
- the worldwide trend towards the abolition of the death penalty and
in particular in Africa where, for example, both Namibia and Mozambique
abolished the death penalty in 1990.
1) H E The Life-President Ngwazi Dr H. Kamuzu Banda Your Excellency
Office of the President and Cabinet
P/Bag 301
Lilongwe 3
Telegrams: Life-President Banda, Lilongwe, Malawi
Telexes: 44389 PRES MI, 44113 EXTERNAL MI
Faxes: + 265 731878
2) Mr F.L. Makuta Dear Minister
Minister of Justice
Office of the President
PO Box 301
Lilongwe 3
Telegrams: Justice Minister Makuta, Lilongwe, Malawi
Telexes: 44766 JUSTICE MI
1) Hon. J Z U Tembo
Minister of State in the Office of the President
P/Bag 301
Lilongwe 3
2) Commissioner of Prisons
Malawi Prison Service Headquarters
PO Box 28
and to diplomatic representatives of Malawi in your country.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat,
or your section office, if sending appeals after 6 May 1992.

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