Unlucky 13 face death penalty

Dr Eric Kwa
13 unlucky inmates on death row could face the death penalty, according to reports in The National, which could be implemented this year.

Of the 13 inmates, 8 were convicted of piracy related crimes while the rest were convicted of murder.

According to Dr Eric Kwa, Constitutional Law Reform Commission Secretary, the government has opted to implement the death penalty this year. However, they are yet to sort out two things:
  • The method of execution, and;
  • A proper facility for them.
The methods which Cabinet will have to decide on include electrocution, lethal injection with deprivation of oxygen, lethal injection with anaesthetic, firing squad and the gallows.

Until May last year (2013), offences like treason, piracy and wilful murder attracted the death penalty. This has been extended to include sorcery related murders, aggravated rape and robbery.

The move comes despite opposition from Amnesty International which claims that there is no evidence to support the death penalty as a deterrent to crime.
“When faced with high crime rates or public concern and outrage over crime rates or particularly heinous crimes, politicians and government authorities often present the resumption of executions as a crime-control measure, despite the lack of convincing evidence of the deterrent effect of the death penalty on the overall crime situation.
However, crime trends and patterns are determined by a combination of several factors that affect and change society at different levels - from the national macrocosm to the level of communities, families and individuals themselves.
The effectiveness of the relevant institutions, the police force and the judiciary is critical to both effectively addressing crime and changing the public perception around the safety of a society. 
Government authorities should direct their attention towards devising comprehensive crime prevention programmes. There is also a need for political leadership - a willingness to draw attention to the human rights issues inherent to any discussion on the death penalty and to move towards abolishing the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment.”

However, Dr Kwa defended the move saying that the government’s argument is reasonable and all those on the death penalty have committed horrendous crimes.
“One person actually slaughtered a family of seven people and it was a premeditated attack.”
He said these criminals have exhausted the rules of appeal and clemency.

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