The death penalty issue in Kenya/ L’enjeu de la peine de mort au Kenya.

(Liens en anglais/ links in english)

Lucy Oriang écrit dans le journal kenyan Daily Nation pour critiquer le Kenya qui applique toujours la peine de mort dans sa législation. Selon elle, 3741 personnes ont été condamnées à mort au Kenya entre 2001 et 2005. La plupart d’entre elles avaient moins de 18 ans lors de leur condamnation et seulement 182 peines ont été commuées en peine de prison à vie.

Selon Amnesty international seuls l’Afrique du sud, le Cap-Vert, la Côte d’Ivoire, le Djibouti, la Guinée-Bissau, le Liberia, l’île Maurice, le Mozambique, la Namibie, Sao Tome e Principe, le Sénégal et les Seychelles ont aboli la peine de mort en Afrique.

Lucy Oriang writes in the kenyan newspaper, Daily Nation, to critizice Kenya who still applies the death sentence in his legislation. According to Oriang:

Still, 3,741 people were sentenced to death between 2001 and 2005, according to prisons headquarters. The sentence was commuted to life imprisonment for 182 of them upon appeal. A sizeable number were under 18 when convicted.

According to Amnesty International the African States who are abolitionists for all crimes (whose laws do not provide for the death penalty for any crime) are Cape Verde, Côte d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Sao Tome e Principe, Senegal, Seychelles Islands and South Africa.

Lucy Oriang:

The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights wants the death sentence done away with, not just in practice but also in law. I am with the commission, but there’s no underestimating the challenge of convincing Kenyans that death row should cease to exist at Kamiti Maximum Prison.

Only this week in Parliament, some speakers supporting Nominated MP Amina Abdalla on the need to set up a drug abuse control authority were categorical about their feelings on this one thing: drug dealers should die. They included Nobel Peace Laureate Wangari Maathai.

No question has ever been more vexed. There were days when conditions in prison were so brutal that we might as well have condemned to death anyone who went in. There can be a fate worse than death, it seems.

There are many shades of opinion on whether people should be put to death for capital offences. For millions of people in the world, the video shows of the hanging of that most evil of men, Saddam Hussein, was prime time entertainment.

HE GOT WHAT HE DESERVED, AS FAR as they were concerned. Yet that country remains on fire long after he’s gone. Did Iraq get what it deserved, then?
An incredibly high number of people are not even prepared to let the law take its course.

They want pickpockets, armed gangsters, despotic rulers and the entire dustbin of criminals buried — now, and without the benefit of a trial.

Many years ago, I came across a commotion in downtown Nairobi. The street was like a madhouse, with people screaming and running.

The first two people I tried to speak with rushed past, leaving me with my mouth hanging open in mid-sentence. Eventually, someone shouted that a thief had been caught and all those people were making haste to get a piece of the action.

A young woman stepped out of her high heels and tried to wiggle her way through a small gap in the throng, determined to land a blow on the bloodied mess on the ground.

I got to know that the young man eventually died. He had apparently tried to pickpocket someone who had melted into the crowd by the time police arrived.

The death penalty had been meted out in the street, probably because many in that crowd had been victims of muggers, armed robbers and pickpockets. They were signalling that they had no confidence in the police and the courts.

What I still don’t understand, though, is what makes the mob any different from the people they lynch. There is a difference between defending yourself and murder, which is a premeditated and cold-blooded decision to end a life.

There has been no execution in Kenya since the hanging nearly two decades ago of 12 men, including 1982 Air Force coup leaders Hezekiah Ochuka and Pancras Okumu.

Still, 3,741 people were sentenced to death between 2001 and 2005, according to prisons headquarters. The sentence was commuted to life imprisonment for 182 of them upon appeal. A sizeable number were under 18 when convicted.

No argument against the death sentence should underestimate the suffering and pain of those whose lives have been blighted by capital offences.

There are many of us who bear the wounds of ethnic cleansing, rampant insecurity and out-and-out assassinations — sometimes purely because you’ve worked hard and made a good life, and someone reckons they deserve it more than you do.

Perhaps the case against the death penalty would be stronger if there were provisions for restitution for those who suffer the consequences of capital offences and rehabilitation for the culprits.

Still, the commission puts up a strong argument: “…the hallmark of a civilised society is arguably the acknowledgement of human worth and dignity, at the core of which is the principle of the sanctity of life, which should be protected under all circumstances.”

For those coming into the debate from a Christian perspective, there is value in meditating on the Fifth Commandment, which starkly says, “Do not kill”. There is no room for extenuating circumstances in that edict. The same Bible also urges believers to leave vengeance to the Lord, who retains the power to give and take away life.

RWANDA PROBABLY OFFERS THE most explicit example of the virtue of forgiveness in order to free you to move on in this journey called life. Their Gacaca courts allow people who participated in the genocide to confess their sins publicly and ask for the forgiveness of those they subjected to the most terrible trauma.

They must still pay a price for their sins, of course, but the greater benefit is that they are able to come face to face with their conscience — and to look the survivors in the eye and acknowledge their crimes. It also opens up an opportunity for freedom on both sides.

It is a humbling thought. No one ever said that peace comes cheap. It is purely an acknowledgement that an endless cycle of revenge will get you nowhere. What can ever be worse than the genocide these people lived through?