Lobby group advises against death penalty

Embu GK prison
File Photo of the Embu GK Prison.

A section of Murang’a residents want alternative penalties to be granted those found guilty of capital offences.

During a public participation organised by the Power of Mercy Advisory Committee (POMAC) in Murang’a Town, scores of residents said those sentenced to death or life imprisonment should be involved in activities that can be of benefit to society.

The residents noted that it would be wrong for the country to adopt execution of convicts of capital offences as other countries put measures in place to stop it.

A Kikuyu council of elders’ member, Joachim Gitonga, said life is sacred and thus capital offences should be dealt with in accordance to African traditions.

He noted those who have been sentenced to death are still in prison doing nothing since the government suspended execution of those granted death sentence since 1987.

“We want the government to actively involve those sentenced to life or death in national development and stop torturing the convicts by holding them in prisons without them knowing their way forward,” added Gitonga.

He cited that the convicts should be engaged in tree planting, dams building and in agricultural projects instead of being kept idle in prisons.

On his part, Murang’a Township Chief Mr Charles Muna said the death penalty is crucial to deter people from committing capital offences.

Muna explained that if the penalty is reduced, the rate of crime would go up, adding that the death penalty usually help to prevent people from committing capital offences.

POMAC vice chair Regina Boisabi said they are collecting views from members of the public so as to help formulate policy on death penalty.

She noted there are about 3,000 people sentenced to death who are held in Kenyan prisons.

“Kenya was given an ultimatum by the united states in 2013 to take a stand on death penalty and that’s why as the committee we are doing public participation before working on a report to present to the president,” added the vice chair.

Since 2013, Boisabi said 96 death row convicts have received presidential pardon and they are adapting well to society.

The vice chair said they will be ready with the report by the end of the year and hand over it to the president in January next year.

Elsewhere, Samburu County residents have proposed inclusion of defilement, corruption and cattle rustling offences in the list of capital offences in the laws of Kenya.

The residents said offences related to cattle rustling and defilement has put victims through severe agony and emotional distress in a debate that was organized by Power of Mercy Advisory Committee (POMAC).

They supported a proposal of including defilement in the list of capital offences saying the rights of children and people living with disabilities have often been violated due to a lighter punishment.

They also said there is need to discourage criminals from cattle rustling that has led to the loss of lives in the region by imposing a death penalty to the convicts.

Solomon Wanyeki who is the Chairperson of Nyumba Kumi initiative in Maralal town and an ex-prisoner, proposed that corruption should also be treated as a capital offence in Kenya.

While addressing media after the forum, POMAC Vice Chairperson, Regina Saira, said Kenya was encouraged to abolish the death penalty during United Nations periodic review in 2014 leading to collection of views from citizens.

According to Saira, POMAC has so far collected views from 23 of 47 counties. She said the institution would make appropriate recommendations to the president after analyzing public views collected from all counties across the country.

Josphister Lengarpatei contributed to this story 


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