President Peter Mutharika has called for a “honest national dialogue” if the country should resume capital punishment in response to murder rate so that people found guilty of killing especially persons with albinism be slapped with death penalty.
Mutharika said this in a statement issued by Presidential Press Secretary Mgeme Kalilani and made available to Nyasa Times on Thursday.
There have been fevered calls for country to lift the moratorium on executions following the resurfacing of gruesome attacks on persons with albinism.
Kalilani said the Malawi leader is asking for an “honest national dialogue” on whether the country should start implementing the death penalty or not on individuals sentenced to death for murder.
“President Mutharika is aware that there are some stakeholders who feel passionately that implementing the death penalty on individuals sentenced to death could go a long way as a deterrent to would-be offenders from attacking persons with albinism,” said Kalilani in a statement.
“On the other hand, the President is also aware of the international community’s stand against the death penalty,” he said.
He said: “These two view points are on opposite extreme end of each other; hence the need for dialogue and a national consensus. “
Malawi’s law allow the death penalty for people convicted of murder. However, despite the law providing for a death sentence, it has not been applicable since 2004 when Bakili Muluzi was in power after dictatorship of Malawi Congress Party (MCP). Other presidents after Muluzi including the incumbent has not assented to execution because of human rights concerns with the United Nations campaigning for removal of such laws from the books.
The hangman’s job has been vacant in Malawi since 1994 but applications could be invited if death sentence could be rmeted to perpetrators of crimes against people with albinism or murderers.
Mutharika’s call for dialogue on death penalty follows the recent killing of Macdonald Masambuka, a young man with albinism in Machinga District, whose body was found on April 1, 2018 weeks after he was reported missing in early March.
The abduction and killing of Masambuka brings to four the number of attacks against persons with albinism in 2018.
State House said Mutharika is assuring all Malawians that the abduction and murder of Masambuka and similar unresolved cases will be “thoroughly investigated” with the speed they deserve and that all those implicated will be prosecuted “vigorously.”
The President has expressed “great shock” and “sadness” about the news of re-emergence of attacks on persons with albinism in some parts of the country.
“This depressing development is happening at a time government had made tremendous progress in efforts to stop such barbarous acts,” reads the statement from State House.
The body of Masambuka, 22, who came from Nakawa Village, Traditional Authority (T/A) Nkoola in Machinga, was found last Sunday buried within the district.
Police traced his body following confessions from suspects who had been arrested in connection with the crime.
Seven suspects, reportedly including a police officer and six civilians, have been arrested for the killing.
The President has commended the professional Police officers that have this far worked day and night to establish what had befallen the late Masambuka since his disappearance.
Mutharika further encourages law enforcers to “dig deep” in investigating the killing of Masambuka and bring the alleged perpetrators to justice, saying no one implicated should be spared regardless of their social status.
“The President will not allow criminals in our communities to reverse the gains made in the efforts to protect persons with albinism. President Mutharika’s Government remains seriously committed to protecting the human rights for all its citizens with special emphasis on vulnerable groups such as persons with albinism,” reads the statement.
The President is calling for concerted effort from all stakeholders to understand what weaknesses in the earlier interventions have led to the re-emergence of the attacks on person with albinism, get to the root of the problem and collectively defeat it.
State House said Malawi government appreciates the support it has thus far been receiving from the international development partners, traditional leaders, the Judiciary and the clergy in protecting the lives and rights of people with albinism and holding rights’ violators accountable.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :