HUMAN RIGHTS

Time to abolish the death penalty

In Summary

• A new survey has just found out that most Kenyans do not support the death penalty

• No convicted prisoner has been executed in Kenya since 1987

Most Kenyans want the death penalty abolished, according to a new survey.

The last execution of convicted prisoners took place in 1987 so the death penalty is no longer applied in practice. In 2017 the Supreme Court ruled that it was unconstitutional to automatically apply the death penalty in murder cases although it did not rule on other crimes such as armed robbery.

This has resulted in over 600 prisoners still languishing on death row, even though many did not commit murder.

The Bible says 'an eye for an eye' but it is illogical to argue that murder should be punished by execution. Either killing people is right or it is wrong (unless perhaps in self-defence).

The survey from the Death Penalty Project shows that Kenyans recognise that there is a genuine risk of innocent people being sentenced to death. Only a small minority are strongly opposed to abolition of capital punishment.

It is therefore time for the government to formalise the existing de facto practice and legally abolish the death penalty. Kenya can remain tough on crime but the courts should not go on dishing out the death penalty, often for dubious cases.

Quote of the day: "I defy you to agitate any fellow with a full stomach."

William Cobbett
The English campaigning journalist  died on June 17, 1835