ZIMBABWE – Tendai Biti was today at the Constitutional Court where he was standing in for the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights who are challenging the continued use of judiciary corporal punishment on convicted male juveniles saying it is inhumane, degrading and violates convicted juveniles’ rights.
Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku who was sitting with the full bench of the Constitutional Court judges, however, reserved judgment on the matter.
Biti told the highest court in the country that Section 353 of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act, which sanctions corporal
punishment, was unconstitutional and an attempt by the State to drag the country back to the 13th century era.
He urged the state to find other effective methods of punishing male juveniles such as creating probation houses.
“Corporal punishment is retributive. It is like the use of an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth or a life for a life. It is both physical
and psychological torture. There is no yardstick to determine the force used in corporal punishment,” Biti told the court.
“There are other effective methods of punishing juveniles such as the issue of probation houses. This court must be on par with international laws. Corporal punishment is torture, cruel, retributive and primitive. The imposition is an infringement to the right to dignity. The two most important rights are the rights to dignity and the right to life,” Biti said.
He said Section 353 of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act also violated some sections in the new Constitution such as Sections 51, 52 and 53. However, in its defence of corporal punishment, the prosecutor general’s office lawyers said canning the
male youths not unconstitutional or degrading.
Also appearing for the human rights lawyers, David Hofisi, a lawyer with the organisation said corporal punishment being cruel and degrading, corporal punishment was null and void. “It is null and void in terms of the law. It does not have a constitutional leg to stand on. Prohibit corporal punishment as a form of punishment. The trauma suffered by the juvenile is far worse than that of an adult. It is the aspirations of the people’s will through the Constitution,” Hofisi told the Constitutional Court judges before they reserved judgment on the matter.