Con-Court upholds corporal punishment

HARARE - The Constitutional Court (Con-Court) has said corporal punishment against juveniles in criminal matters remains in force.

This comes after High Court judge Esther Muremba early this year delivered a ruling declaring corporal punishment unconstitutional, adding that the offenders should be rehabilitated instead.

However, the Con-Court yesterday set aside her ruling.

“The matter is postponed sine die and for the guidance of the subordinate court, the order of Muremba J is suspended. The law is as it was before the order,” Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku said.

The State brought the matter before the Con-Court, challenging the confirmation of the High Court ruling.

In the application, the State agreed that the legislation should not be struck off.

This resulted in the court seeking a divergent view on the matter, stating that it was an important subject that needed a different opinion.

Harare lawyer Tendai Biti accepted to file submissions proffering a different view.

In its submissions, the State argued that there was a distinction between corporal punishment and abuse.

“The State does not support the declaration of constitutional invalidity made by the High Court,” the State said.

It further said moderate corporal punishment could not be described as inhuman and that ruling otherwise would be stretching the issue of human rights too far.

The court process comes after a 15-year-old boy was found guilty of raping a 14-year-old girl and appealed against his sentence.

The boy had been sentenced to receive three strokes. However, Muremba said the new Constitution outlawed the canning of juveniles.

“In the new Constitution, the right to freedom from torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment is under Section 53, which reads, ‘no person may be subjected to physical or psychological torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment’,” Muremba said.

She added, “My interpretation of Sections 53 and 86 of the new Constitution brings me to the conclusion that corporal punishment is now unconstitutional.”

She said corporal punishment was now internationally regarded as violence against children and a breach of fundamental human rights.

Comments (6)

thank you. the problem is which either way the law goes it will be abused. no to corporal punishment the children will abuse it. yes to it the adults will abuse it. for they is no need to try and shout aloud on what to do here.

see - 18 June 2015

if we say no corporal punishment to children who misbehave then we have lost it as responsible fathers and mothers.

sam - 19 June 2015

Spare the rod and spoil the child

jei dombo - 21 June 2015

Shamhu yakakosha kuvana so that they will not be a disgrace to us, otherwise will raise a generation without values and difficult to control.

bag - 22 June 2015

Shamhu haina kumboshata, punishment is not bad at all, as long as it is administered sensibly and in moderation.... We were punished when we did wrong and look at us now, we didn't turn out bad at all, our parents are proud of us now. Look at countries were punishment is abolished, how much juvenile delinquency they experience, it's outrageous. Why change a winning formula?

Den - 22 June 2015

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