Corporal punishment abolished

GWERU - Magistrates around the country have been ordered to stop giving juvenile rape offenders corporal punishment regardless of gender as it has been abolished in the new Constitution, a top magistrate has said.

Corporal punishment, commonly known as canning, is a sentence delivered on minors who lawfully cannot serve jail time.

It was skewed in favour of girls as boys only would receive strokes of the rattan cane when convicted of any offence.

According to the December 6, 2014 directive, magistrates around the country were encouraged to consider other forms of punishment.

“Now that the new Constitution has outlawed corporal punishment, magistrates are implored to consider other sentencing options in rape cases in respect of juvenile offenders,” chief magistrate Mishrod Guvamombe said in the December 6 statement.

Speaking to the Daily News yesterday, Guvamombe confirmed that all magistrates were issued with a statement confirming the abolishment of corporal punishment as it is outlawed under Section 53 of Zimbabwe’s new Constitution, adopted in May 2013.

“We issued a statement to magistrates and we are saying that there are other alternative sentences we can give like a suspended sentence,” Guvamombe said.

“In the new Constitution it is not competent to impose corporal punishment on anyone.

“It is a constitutional provision which should be upheld,” he said.

Section 53 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe states that: “In the new Constitution, the right to freedom from torture or cruel inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. No law may permit the right to be tortured or subjected to cruelty, inhuman or degrading treatment.”

The ruling is likely to change the face of juvenile trials as magistrates would have to devise ways of sentencing minors without infringing on their constitutional rights.

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