The law in Zimbabwe has allowed a court to impose a sentence of “moderate corporal punishment” on any boy under 18 convicted of any offence. This has been justified as a way of keeping young people out of prison, among other reasons. But now the country’s constitutional court says that this section of the law runs foul of developing human dignity jurisprudence. Corporal punishment, as a court imposed sentence, has to go – it cannot be retained in a society that wants to ensure no-one is subjected to degrading treatment or punishment.
The landmark decision by Zimbabwe’s constitutional court, delivered this week, had the unanimous agreement of the entire bench.
At issue was an earlier decision by high court judge Esther Muremba, delivered in January 2015, in which she found that court-imposed corporal punishment on male juvenile offenders was not constitutional.