Zimbabwe’s president, Robert Mugabe, has said he is in favour of resuming executions in the country in response to rising murder rates.
Capital punishment is on the statute book in Zimbabwe, but no one has been executed since 2005, when the country’s last hangman retired.
“I think let’s restore the death penalty,” Mugabe said in the capital Harare at the burial of a veteran of Zimbabwe’s independence struggle on Wednesday.
Although he said his cabinet is divided on the issue, Mugabe said he favoured lifting the moratorium on executions. He did not say when it could happen, but said: “If you hear people are being executed, know Mugabe’s thinking has prevailed.”
Mugabe, 93, said he had been shocked by the number of recent murders in Zimbabwe after receiving a crime report from the police chief, though he gave no further details.
“People are playing with death by killing each other,” he said. “Is this why we liberated this country?
“We want this country to be a peaceful and happy nation, not a country with people who kill each other.”
Human rights groups including Amnesty International have often called on Zimbabwe, which has 92 inmates on death row, to permanently abolish capital punishment.
The country’s 2013 constitution exempts all women from the death penalty, as well as males under 18 and over 69 years old.
“The response has been overwhelming and the applications have been from both men and women,” Virginia Mabhiza, permanent secretary in the justice ministry , told the NewsDay newspaper at the time.
“We have received over 50 applications in the past few months. People are very interested.”
A new hangman was reported to have been appointed in 2012 but the chosen candidate was never confirmed.
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