Zimbabwe

Court says accused in double witchcraft murder a ‘suitable candidate’ for death penalty, imposes lesser sentence because of sincere beliefs

The high court in Zimbabwe has been grappling with the question of how to deal with witchcraft-related murder, and the role that such beliefs should play in a trial. It’s an on-going issue for courts in a number of African countries, and in this case, the presiding judge, Lucy Mungwari, looked at a variety of approaches by other courts. The case she was considering was particularly horrific, as the accused murdered his own father and his aunt, both of whom were well over 80 years old. 

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The presiding judge in this case, Lucy Mungwari, said she agreed that African communities generally embraced traditional healers and that there was a persistent belief in witchcraft. The ‘witches’ in such matters were seen not benign, however, but were regarded as ‘irredeemably wicked’ by their communities.

New journal on democracy, governance and human rights for Zimbabwe

A new, scholarly journal focused on democracy, governance and human rights in Zimbabwe, has just published its first edition online. Coordinator of the journal, Musa Kika, says the journal is partly a response to Zimbabwe’s lack of scholarly publications dealing with legal and other issues, and that this is a lack that the judiciary itself has commented on. The first edition, featuring five articles focused on elections, election practices and disputes, is particularly timely given that a general election is expected to be held in Zimbabwe by mid-year.

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The journal, set to come out annually, focuses for its first edition on issues related to elections and contests about elections. It’s a particularly timely focus, given that judges and members of the legal profession, regionally and internationally, are increasingly asked to play a significant role during preparations for polling, as well as monitoring actual elections and assessing to what extent they were free and fair.

Serious court efforts brought to hold public officers, top members of the Zim government administration to account, curb corruption

Zimbabwe’s 2013 constitution requires a law to be passed to deal with accountability and transparency among public officers as well as top members of government. But virtually 10 years since the constitution was enacted, there is still no such law. Now, efforts are being made through the courts to ensure that something is, at last, done about this fundamental constitutional requirement.

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Read statement by Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum

 

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