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European tells Uganda to abolish death penalty

BY Tom Mugisha, tom.mugisha@alleastafrica.com

KAMPALA- The new European Union Head of Delegation to Uganda, Mr Attilio Pacifici has asked Uganda to follow “the global trend” and abolish the death penalty.

Pacifici said the poor could be victims of death penalty because they have no access legal representation in courts.

 “It’s not a strong correlation between the poverty and capital punishment, there’s such a strong link; people living in poverty are at a greater risk of suffering the death sentence because they have no access to credible defence,” Mr Pacifici said.

 The EU diplomat who was speaking at the International Day Against the Death Penalty in Nsambya, Kampala, on Wednesday said death penalty is inhuman degrading form of punishment that does not deter crime.

Status

Currently, Uganda has 160 death row inmates, six women. There are 28 offenses in Uganda that attract the death—the highest number in East Africa—however, with exemptions to juveniles, pregnant women and the mentally ill.

The last executions happened in 1999 and 2005 for the civilian and military systems, respectively.

Public support for the death penalty in Uganda has tremendously reduced, with 64 per cent reportedly backing abolition.

The ambassador said, the EU (which funded the Kigula petition) has no intention to interfere with Uganda’s courts, but it will support strengthen the judiciary and entire justice system.

He thus urged government to: pass the Law Revision Law (Revision Penalties in Criminal Matters) Miscellaneous Amendment Bill 2015 to give effect to the Supreme Court ruling in Kigula and limit the application of the death penalty to the most serious crimes as defined by international standards; require that all competent authorities consider the economic status of the defendants in deciding whether to impose or uphold a death sentence; ensure full respect for the right to a fair trial and the right to effective counsel and work to reduce poverty and inequality in the country.

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