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The Death Penalty in Malawi: An Assessment against Regional and International Human-rights Standards

Esther Gumboh


Despite the global trend towards the abolition of the death penalty, Malawi has no plans to do so. However, the country is under an obligation to ensure that the use of the death penalty is restricted in line with regional and international human-rights law. A survey of the application of the death penalty in Malawi reveals that while there are some restrictions on its use, the law and practice are not fully aligned with the regional and international standards. This is particularly the case with the scope of capital crimes, the right to seek mercy and the death row phenomenon. Malawi needs to address these shortfalls and move progressively towards the abolition of the death penalty. The task of this article is to make known some findings on how Malawi fares in this regard. The paper first discusses the regional and international human rights standards for the death penalty then it considers the Malawian Constitution and the restrictions on the death penalty under Malawian law. It concludes with an assessment of the extent to which Malawi conforms to international law insofar as the death penalty is concerned.


death penalty; death row; abolition; punishment; capital crimes; fair trial; pardon; Malawi

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