Human rights groups calls for abolition of death sentence – Kenya News Agency
The Death Penalty Project (DPP), in partnership with Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, has released the most recent report on the death penalty. It provides a detailed analysis of the lives and circumstances of death row prisoners in Kenya.
The report focuses on prisoners’ socioeconomic backgrounds and profiles, as well as their experiences of the criminal justice process and of imprisonment.
Development partners DPP and KNCHR commissioned the University of Oxford Death Penalty Research Unit to conduct a study of prisoners’ experiences as part of its programme of research on the death penalty in Kenya.
Todate, this work has consisted of a study on opinion formers’ views on the death penalty and a report on public attitudes to the death penalty, both published in 2022.
Prof. Carolyne Hoyle of the Department of Criminology, Oxford University presented findings of an investigation that was conducted in over 671 prisons across Kenya. 95 percent of the subjects were male prisoners and 81% were subject to the death penalty.
Hoyle stated, “The convicts were minor offenders” and noted that 54% were sentenced for robbery by violence and 48% for murder.
“The convicts remain uneducated, unemployed, have mental issues and are substance abusers making them vulnerable to injustice due to their lack of legal knowledge,” she disclosed.
Roseline Odede (KNCHR Chairperson) stated that justice is about rehabilitating and not punishing convicts.
“Death penalties are irreversible and it amounts to torture. It discriminates and targets those in poor backgrounds and those with little knowledge of the system,” said Odede.
She said that they had engaged with the target audience through research, which led to the publication.
“We have conducted educational campaigns on the abolition and also visited places of detention which provide an image that enables us to advocate for prisoners’ rights,” said Odede.
Meanwhile, Parvaies Jabbar (Head of Death Penalties Project) stated that no execution has taken place in Kenya since 1987.
“25 countries within the African Union (AU) have abolished the death penalty. Although Kenya is a trailblazer, there lacks political will to execute it, even though abolition has not taken place,” said Jabbar.
Jabbar said that even though Kenya has not executed death sentenced prisoners for many decades, death sentences are still imposed in Kenya and the threat to execute remains, even though prisoners know that policy or practice may change with a new government.
“If Kenya abolished the death penalty by removing the threat of execution for those currently on death row and those convicted of murder or robbery with violence in the future, prisoners would be better able to reflect on the harms they have caused in their past,” he explained.
Jabbar said that it is possible to imagine better lives for prisoners, their families, and those who care for them while they are in prison, including the staff.
The report will be used by both the DPP (KNCHR) to inform and persuade people who are able and willing to work towards abolition.
By Trepher leslie and Elizabeth Mugo