The WCC has repeatedly spoken out against capital punishment, and in 1990, the WCC central committee declared its unconditional opposition to the death penalty “as a significant expression of our belief in the sanctity of life.”
Since then, the WCC has spoken out on several occasions to appeal against imminent executions, to reject changes in legislation which would facilitate executions, and to commend decision makers for turning away from this most severe form of punishment.
“We are very concerned by this development,” Sauca said. “The possibility that executions will be resumed in Malawi sets the country against the global trend towards abolition of the death penalty.”
When the death penalty is carried out, mistakes made in the legal process cannot later be remedied, and it allows no possibility for those convicted to repent, reform and change their lives, noted Sauca.
Following the earlier judgement, the president of Malawi stated on 3 May that the ruling abolishing the death penalty would be respected. “I encourage the government of Malawi to abide by this commitment despite the latest ruling,” said Sauca, “and to take the necessary legislative measures to abolish the death penalty.”
The Rt Rev. Dr Fanuel Emmanuel Magangani of the Anglican Diocese of Northern Malawi stressed the responsibility of parliament in this regard. “The clarification makes it clear that the process was supposed to begin with parliament by repealing the law rather than being dealt with in court.”
Dr Billy Gama, general secretary of the Blantyre Synod of the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian stated that synod believes in the sanctity of human life and is against the death penalty. “Imagine you have executed a person for murder and you find out that he never committed such a crime. Are you going to reverse the lost life?” he asked.
“My prayers at this time,” concluded Sauca, “are particularly with the prisoners on death row and their families, who – having understood following the April ruling that the death penalty had been abolished – are again facing uncertainty and suffering from the fear that they will be executed.”