The death penalty has yet again been upheld by parliament. This is a sad day for Kenya with respect to human rights and also in the eyes of god. Most MPs are known to publicly abhor I am totally opposed to this legistlation Chris, do you support it? Kenya has this law in the statutes but it doesn't practice death penalty beyond conviction, which is worse than those who practice like the USA.
Because Kenya still retains the death penalty, there are thousands of convicts on deathrow awaiting their date with the hangman noose. Although no executions have been carried out since 1987, one has to think and imagine what it feels like to wake up in jail each morning not knowing what it means to stay alive. And this goes on for these condemned individuals for up to 20 years! Is it really just and humane to keep a deathrow convict in suspense for period of time?
The death penalty is a mandatory sentence for murder, treason, robbery with violence or attempted robbery with violence and for administration of an unlawful oath to commit a capital offence. A lot of people assume rape is a capital offence. Unless there is robbery or murder involved rape does not constitute a capital offence. By law the death penalty may not be imposed on anyone under 18 years of age at the time of the offence, a pregnant woman or an insane person.
In 1987, 168 people were sentenced to death (most of them being 1982 abortive coup plotters). Many prisoners on death row in Kamiti, Shimo-la-Tewa, Naivasha GK Prison and Kodiaga in Kisumu have died as a result of a combination of factors including, stress, appalling prison conditions and old age. The Court of Appeal is sometimes known to overturn life sentences to the death penalty for capital offences!
The death penalty is unjust, barbaric and denies due process of law. Its imposition is arbitrary and irrevocable. It forever deprives an individual of benefits of new evidence or new law that might warrant the reversal of a conviction or the setting aside of a death sentence. Of course, the death penalty does not in any way UNDO or REVERSE whatever crime it was that led to the conviction.
My take on this is that President Kibaki, as a christian and an elder, is just too scared of signing death warrants for condemned prisoners. It is a topic he completely steered clear off when minister Kiraitu Murungi (himself a long time human rights activist) wanted to introduce in parliament during their first months in power. The constitution provides for the Prerogative of Mercy and the President has the right to pardon or commute the sentence of any person convicted of any offence. Infact, in the year he took power, (2003) President Kibaki commuted the death sentences of 223 inmates which was then very commendable.
Chris, suppose you were president, can you imagine yourself appending your signature as a finality on a convict's death warrant? The also imagine doing it for the thousands of condemned prisoners during your reign as president?
It is generally agreed that most of the violent crimes committed in Kenya today are by 'young people' (ie below 25 years old). And crime rates are going up rather than reducing despite these laws. Because of inexperience and in the process of committing violent crime, defenseless victims are killed even when they offer no resistance or immediate threat - only because young criminals don't leave any potential witnesses alive only because they fear these witnesses could testify and lead to their conviction on death penalty!
It is high time known reformist and human rights activitis like Kivutha Kibwana, Kiraitu Murungi, Koigi Wa Wamwere (himself a victim of this law) and Martha Karua - all of whom hold influential positions in government - do something worth their presence in government even if not political reasons. And that is they should lobby strongly for the death penalty to be abolished in Kenya whether through and act of parliament or through a referendum. It should be done away with!
This is a guest post by Phil
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