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Why European Union wants death penalty repealed in Uganda

Sam Kutesa, minister of Foreign Affairs receives Attilio Pacifici, the new European Union Ambassador to Uganda at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Kampala on September 11, 2017. Courtesy PHOTO.

Amnesty International recorded 3,117 death sentences in 55 countries in 2016, a significant increase on the total for 2015 (1,998 sentences in 61 countries).

In Uganda alone, the current number of death row inmates stands at 160 however, as of March 2, 2016, the nation had 208 inmates awaiting execution after being sentenced to death for the conviction of a capital crime (197 men and 11 women).

The European Union (EU) Head of Delegation to Uganda, Ambassador Attilio Pacifici on Wednesday called for the abolition of the death penalty and urged government to pass the Bill which seeks to amend laws to remove all references to the mandatory death Penalty prescribed by the Laws and to restrict its application to the “most serious crimes” as defined by international standards.

Most referred to as The Law Re­vi­sion (Penal­ties in Crim­i­nal Mat­ters) Mis­cel­la­neous Amend­ment Bill, 2015, this private member’s bill introduced in the Ninth Parliament by then Serere woman MP, Alice Alaso seeks to convert the maximum penalties prescribed in the laws into imprisonment for life and re­move the restric­tion on mitigation in the case of convictions that carry the death penalty.

Ambassador Attilio expressed that EU considers the death penalty as a cruel, inhuman and irreversible punishment which fails to act as a deterrent to criminal behaviour.

This was said at the Foundation for Human Rights Initiative in Nsambya – Kampala as the world marked the International Day Against the Death Penalty.

According to EU, The abolition of the death penalty is essential for the enhancement of human dignity and for the progressive development of human rights.

Ambassador Attilio also pointed out the importance of giving people a second chance.

On 21 Sept, UG Christian News reported a story of one Christian mom’s death sentence which was overturned after 12 years.  Jackie Atoo Barbra, 35, was arrested and charged with murder in 2002 however, 10 years into the sentence, Jackie’s life was not left the same when a group of lawyers and legislatures came out to address death penalties against capital offenders in Uganda.

Even though the lawyers were unable to successfully do away with death penalty, their efforts prompted judges to agree that not every murder case deserves a death sentence with Jackie’s case in point.

“The issue that led me to jail happened between me and my husband. We had a fight in which a stone I aimed at him accidentally hit our 5 year-old to death. As a result, my sister was also arrested as an accomplice to the tragedy,” she said.

“He did not change my charges from that of murder but when he examined the case he said I should serve 12 years. When I came back to prison there after, they calculated and concluded that I was remaining with 9 months to complete 12 years from the time the initial sentence was passed. I served my time and came out,” Jackie told our corespondent.

Mr Attilio Pacifici’s statement was issued with human rights defenders, the French Ambassador to Uganda, Ms Stephanie Rivoal, several death row survivors, officials from the Uganda Prison Services, politicians, among others in attendance.

To back up Mr Attilio, French Ambassador to Uganda, Ms Stephanie Rivoal said: “The death penalty is not prevention, not reparation, it’s just revenge,”

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