Is Kenya Paying Lip Service to the Death Penalty Abolishment?

By David Indeje / April 7, 2016 | 10:57 am



death-penalty

Kenya has not executed anyone since 1987 however; the courts still condemn convicts to death, a move that has been condemned by Amnesty international.

“Sentencing someone to death denies them the right to life – enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” Amnesty International report stated.

Besides the UN Human Rights Council recommendation to abolish death penalty, Article 4 of the African Charter states, “Human beings are inviolable. Every human being shall be entitled to respect for his life and the integrity of his person. No one may be arbitrarily deprived of this right” and article 5 stating that “Every individual shall have the right to the respect of the dignity inherent in a human being and to the recognition of his legal status. All forms of exploitation and degradation of man particularly […] torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment and treatment shall be prohibited” Kenya is yet to implement it.

The last execution in Kenya took place in 1987, when the August 1, 1982, coup plotters Hezekiah Ochuka and Pancras Oteyo Okumu were executed following a court-martial verdict. Capital Punishment has been practiced in Kenya way before independence.

While other East Africa countries try to bring the number of death convicts down, the numbers are raising in Kenya. In 2015 the number was 30 down from 11 an year earlier in 2014.

According Amnesty report 2014, at least 2,466 people are known to have been sentenced to death in 2014, an increase of 28% compared with 2013. The increase was mainly due to large numbers of death sentences in Egypt and Nigeria, where mass sentences were imposed in single cases with large numbers of defendants

A global human rights watchdog has over the years pushed for the scrapping of death penalty, saying it violates the right to life.

Amnesty International reports that as of the end of 2013, more than two-thirds of all countries have abolished death penalty in law or in practice. There are 98 countries which have abolished it for all crimes. Most of these are in Western Europe and the Americas.

Seven countries, including Brazil, Chile and Kazakhstan have abolished it for ordinary crimes. In these countries, death penalty can only be given for exceptional crimes such as crime committed under military law or under exceptional circumstances.

Another 35 countries are categorized as abolitionist in practice. These retain the death penalty for ordinary crimes, but there have been no executions in the past 10 years. The death sentence is retained by the legal system of 58 countries. More than half of the world’s population lives in these countries.

President Mwai Kibaki, on February 25, 2003, commuted to life the death sentences of 195 prisoners, and released 28 others who had already served 15-20 years and had a good conduct record

On March 10, 2004, he announced that President Kibaki had commuted all death sentences. According to government statistics, there were 2,618 death row inmates in Kenya up to October 2003.

The Cotonou Declaration of 4, July 2014, made in the Republic of Benin, called upon states to:  adopt the Additional Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Abolition of the Death Penalty in Africa; African States that have not yet done so to consider abolishing the death penalty statutorily or constitutionally, and to consider acceding to or ratifying the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty and urged legislators in Africa to review their national laws and enact legislation abolishing the death penalty and to support the ratification of the Additional Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Abolition of the Death Penalty in Africa.  

Kenya’s Supreme Court is expected to make a ruling this year on the legality of the country’s mandatory death penalty after several death row convicts last year petitioned against their sentencing.

Director of Public Prosecutions Keriako Tobiko has thrown his weight behind an application seeking to abolish the mandatory death sentence for capital offences.

He said on March 3, 2016 that sections of the penal code limiting judges to pass the mandatory death sentence in murder and robbery with violence cases should be changed to allow them more discretion.





About David Indeje

David Indeje is a writer and editor, with interests on how technology is changing journalism, government, Health, and Gender Development stories are his passion. Follow on Twitter @David_IndejeDavid can be reached on: (020) 528 0222 / Email: info@sokodirectory.com

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