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CSO want death penalty limited to murder

By Moses Walubiri

Added 23rd March 2017 04:33 PM

Among offenses on Uganda’s law books that attract the death penalty include murder, treason, aggravated robbery, aggravated defilement and rape.

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Among offenses on Uganda’s law books that attract the death penalty include murder, treason, aggravated robbery, aggravated defilement and rape.

Foundation of Human Rights Initiative Executive Director Livingstone Sewanyana (left) talks to former convicts Patrick Zizinga (right) and Godfrey Bbaale (centre), after appearing before the legal affairs committee of parliament on March 23, 2017. Photo by Kennedy Oryema

Foundation for Human Rights Initiative (FHRI) and a motley group of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) want the death penalty in Uganda to be limited to murder.

The CSOs contend the other 27 offenses on Uganda’s law books that attract the death penalty are not serious enough to warrant the ultimate punishment.

“That is the standard set in many international protocols that are being followed by a number of countries,” FHRI’s Executive Director, Dr. Livingstone Ssewanyana told lawmakers sitting on the legal and parliamentary affairs committee of parliament.

Ssewanyana was at parliament to proffer CSO’s views on The Law Revision (Penalties in Criminal Matters) Miscellaneous Amendments Bill, 2015.

The piece of legislation, a private member’s bill that was introduced in the Ninth Parliament by then Serere woman MP, Alice Alaso, seeks to amend various provisions in a number of legislations that provide for death penalty as a mandatory or discretional sentence in certain offences.

The bill also seeks to abolish the discretionary death penalty and substitute it with life imprisonment in other cases.

By abolishing the mandatory death penalty, the bill seeks to bring Uganda’s legal regime on the death penalty in sync with the Susan Kigula  Supreme Court ruling a decade ago which declared mandatory death penalty as being unconstitutional on account of fettering judicial discretion.

Following the Kigula Supreme Court decision, then Chief Justice, Benjamin Odoki, issued sentencing guidelines which reserved the death penalty for “the rarest of the rare” offenses.

Among offenses on Uganda’s law books that attract the death penalty include murder, treason, aggravated robbery, aggravated defilement and rape.

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