By Patrick Chitumba
In a landmark ruling, the full bench of the Constitutional Court sitting in Harare yesterday ruled that juveniles shall no longer receive corporal punishment when convicted of any offence.
Before this Judgment, male juveniles sentenced to receive corporal punishment would be canned with a rattan cane on the lower part of their backside normally on the same day of the sentence rendering it useless to appeal against either conviction or sentence.
According to a Judgment of the Constitutional Court of Zimbabwe (CCZ) in the matter pitting the State versus Willard Chokuramba, Justice for children trust’s intervening as amicus curiae (friend of the court) and Zimbabwe Lawyers for human rights also intervening as amicus curiae, Chief Justice Luke Malaba sitting with the full bench of the Constitutional Court said the elimination of judicial corporal punishment from the penal system is an immediate and unqualified obligation on the State.
“With effect from 3 April 2019 no male juvenile convicted of any offence shall be sentenced to receive moderate corporal punishment. The prohibition shall apply to sentences to receive moderate corporal punishment that have already been imposed and are awaiting execution,” reads part of the judgement.
“The elimination of judicial corporal punishment from the penal system is an immediate and unqualified obligation on the State. Judicial corporal punishment constitutes a serious violation of the inherent dignity of a male juvenile offender subjected to its administration. It is an antithesis of compliance with the values recognised in Section 53 of the Constitution.
“To emphasise human dignity is to engage with our conception of what it is to be human. It is also a point of closure: it is definitive and universal. It is not a value that tolerates either derogation or dissent. We recognise this in all sorts of areas, including constitutional law.”
According to the Judgment, the matter was for determination on whether Section 353 of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act [Chapter 9:07] (“the Act”) is constitutionally invalid or not.
“The section authorises the imposition of a sentence of moderate corporal punishment on a male person under the age of 18 years who is convicted of any offence.
“The matter came to the Court by way of the procedure for confirmation of orders concerning the constitutional invalidity of any law or any conduct of the President or Parliament made by another court,” reads the Judgment. The Chronicle