End The Death Penalty Update

Rolling back abolition? What’s happening to the Khoviwa judgement in Malawi

In April this year, our work helped pave the way for Malawi’s Supreme Court to declare the death penalty unconstitutional. [1] That judgement was celebrated all over Malawi – by activists, lawyers and politicians alike – as well as around the world.

But now, the April 2021 judgement is being rolled back. A small number of stakeholders claim it was just a draft, and that the final version released in August is the final one. The so-called ‘perfected’ judgement released no longer declares the death penalty unconstitutional.

That’s why, thanks to you, Reprieve is working with partners on the ground in Malawi to back the fight against the ‘perfected’ judgement. Together, we’re fighting to make sure the death penalty is abolished for good.

Here’s a snapshot of what we’re up to right now:

  • Bringing together influential people and organisations to write to Malawi’s president, asking him to step in and stop death row inmates from being executed.
  • Powering our political work, so we can spend more time speaking with decision makers who can abolish the death penalty once and for all in Malawi.
  • Putting more energy into landing huge press pieces that are seen all over Malawi by key politicians and the people who influence them.
  • Exposing what’s happening in Malawi online and build a global movement to oppose the death penalty in Malawi and beyond.

Many people on death row in Malawi are extremely vulnerable:

Sophia Jere is the only woman on death row in Malawi. After years of verbal abuse, beatings and lost teeth from her husband, she was sentenced to death for a crime she was barely involved in.

George Billiati suffers from anxiety, depression, and insomnia. He is often agitated, wringing his hands when speaking, and he has developed severe headaches.

Four months ago, George and Sophia had new hope that they might see their families again. But with the recent reversal, they’re both terrified all over again. Together, we’re pushing to abolish the death penalty for good. If you can, please chip in to help fund the investigations, legal work and campaigns needed to make this happen.

[1] “Malawi just abolished the death penalty,” Reprieve (May 6, 2021).