On March 23, Zimbabwe’s parliament passed a new “Patriotic Bill” which carries the possibility of a death sentence for non-violent crimes in violation of the “most serious crimes” international legal standard. The law will punish citizens whose activities “willfully damage the sovereignty and national interest of Zimbabwe,” including boycotts, sanctions, and any act considered “subversion” by the state. Depending on the offense, punishments include a loss of citizenship, heavy fines, imprisonment, and the death penalty – although the country has not executed anyone since 2005 and had previously indicated a path towards abolition. 

In 2018, President Mnangagwa commuted the death sentences of those who had served more than 10 years on death row; however, the same year five more were sentenced to death. In the foreword to a 2020 report by Zimbabwean non-profit Veritas and University of Oxford Professor Carolyn Hoyle examining the death penalty views of 42 opinion leaders in Zimbabwe, President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who himself was previously on death-row, wrote: “I believe [the death penalty] to be a flagrant violation of the right to life and dignity. I welcome this report, which shows that almost all Zimbabwean opinion formers are of the same mind.” Initiated by the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, and backed by the Centre for Legal Research and the Swiss Embassy, two weeks of nationwide public debates began on March 29, 2023; Zimbabweans had mixed opinions on the issue. 

Citizens’ Coalition for Change (CCC), the main opposition party, tweeted “Democracy is in distress as a report from Parliament confirms that the Patriotic Bill, which is considered unlawful and perilous, has been approved after amending the Criminal Code.” 

According to the state-owned newspaper, The Herald, supporters of the new law see it as a way to reduce “badmouthing” of the country abroad, which contribute to sanctions that hurt the economy.


After Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese met with Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh on his first official visit to the country, clemency was granted to two Australians sentenced to death. “Australia very much welcomed this. We make representations on behalf of Australian citizens and we are very pleased that Vietnam has agreed to the request and we thank them for it,” Albanese said.


On May 17, Singapore hanged a 37-year-old man convicted in 2019 for trafficking around 3.3 pounds of cannabis after efforts to reopen his case based on forensic evidence was dismissed by the court without a hearing. Three weeks prior, Singapore hanged 46-year-old Tangaraju Suppiah for trafficking 2.2 pounds of cannabis, though he was not found in possession of the drugs.

South Korea

Proposed by the Ministry of Justice, a bill removing the sunset clause passed the cabinet and is awaiting parliamentary approval. The law would forbid the execution of death row prisoners after 30 years imprisonment and will be applied retroactively. Although there are 59 prisoners on death-row currently, South Korea has not carried out an execution since 1997.


May marked the highest number of monthly executions in Iran since 2015, with at least 142 executions. Two journalists accused of non-violent offenses are being tried in secret and could face the death penalty. Nilofar Hamedi tweeted a photo of the parents of Mahsa Amini, a young woman who died in police custody, hugging in the corridor of the Kasra hospital where Ms. Amini died. Elaheh Mohammadi covered Ms. Amini’s burial ceremony in Saqqez where 1,000 mourners attended. Both Ms. Hamedi and Ms. Mohammadi, who have been imprisoned for more than eight months, are accused of “colluding with hostile powers.” 

Saudi Arabia

On May 3, 2023, United Nations experts expressed alarm over the imminent execution of three Howeitat tribe members in violation of the “most serious crimes” international legal standard. The UN experts stated: “Despite being charged with terrorism, they were reportedly arrested for resisting forced evictions in the name of the NEOM project and the construction of a 170km linear city called The Line.” NEOM is a $500 billion futuristic megacity project of the Saudi Public Investment Fund.


Yeshiel Panchia, Elections Ahead In Zimbabwe, And Criticism For Country’s New Patriotic Bill, Forbes Africa, June 6, 2023; Ray Ndlovu, Bad-Mouthing The State Is Outlawed Before Election in Zimbabwe, BBC, June 2, 2023; Isaac Kaledzi, Zimbabwe’s new bill that impos­es death penal­ty for unpa­tri­ot­ic acts’, Africa Feeds, June 1, 2023; Two Australians fac­ing death penal­ty in Vietnam grant­ed clemen­cy, Al Jazeera, June 6, 2023; Singapore hangs 2nd cit­i­zen in 3 weeks for traf­fick­ing cannabis despite calls to halt exe­cu­tions, Associated Press, May 18, 2023; Son Ji-hyoung, Cabinet approves bill to remove sun­set clause for death sen­tence, The Korea Herald, June 5, 2023; At Least 142 Executed in May; 307 Executions in 2023, Iran Human Rights, June 1, 2023; Patrick Wintour, Supporters of jailed Iranian jour­nal­ists call for tri­als to be held in pub­lic, The Guardian, May 26, 2023; Press Release, Saudi Arabia: UN experts alarmed by immi­nent exe­cu­tions linked to NEOM project, United Nations, May 3, 2023; Columbus Mavhunga, Zimbabweans Start Debate on Ending Death Penalty, Voice of America, March 29, 2023; Douglas Togaraseyi Mwonzora, Why Zimbabwe Should Amend the Constitution to Abolish the Death Penalty, ConstitutionNet, August 7, 2019; Press Release, Zimbabwe: President Mnangagwa’s com­mu­ta­tion of death sen­tences is pro­gres­sive step’, Amnesty International, March 22, 2018; Carolyn Hoyle, Launch of new report show­ing sup­port for abo­li­tion of the death penal­ty among Zimbabwean opin­ion lead­ers, University of Oxford, June 9, 2020; Herald Reporter, …as patri­ot­ic Zimbabweans cel­e­brate the occa­sion, The Herald, June 2, 2023; Execution Monitor, Cornell Center on the Death Penalty Worldwide