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Uganda abolishes mandatory death penalty

Parliament in Uganda has passed a law that abolishes the mandatory death penalty for certain crimes, amending four different laws that had earlier prescribed capital punishment, including the Anti-Terrorism Act.

If approved by President Yoweri Museveni, the amendments will restrict the death penalty to just the most serious of crimes, only at the judge’s discretion.

Legislators say it is a step towards the complete abolition of capital punishment, something for which courts have previously voiced support.

There are 133 inmates on death row and no-one has been executed in the last 20 years.

There has been a campaign to end capital punishment, following a 2009 court ruling in favour of then death row inmate Susan Kigula, who had argued that the death sentence was unconstitutional.

The court then ruled that the death penalty should not be mandatory in cases of murder, and that a condemned person should not be kept on death row indefinitely – if a convict was not executed within three years, the sentence be automatically turned into life imprisonment.

The Ugandan Prisons Service has welcomed the move by MPs, saying focus should be on reforming inmates.

By BBC

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