CHILDREN: UNSEEN VICTIMS OF THE DEATH PENALTY.

“In all actions concerning children, whether undertaken by public or private social welfare institutions, courts of law, administrative authorities, or legislative bodies, the best interest of the child shall be a primary  consideration.” – Convention of the Rights of a Child (CRC), Article 3, Subsection 1.

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Death Penalty; Inhuman, Cruel, Degrading!

According  to report by the World Coalition  [against death penalty],  ‘there has been growing acknowledgment that in international standards that sentencing a parent to death and executing a parent results in emotional trauma, creating the risk that the following protections in CRC will be violated:

  1. Right to Health
  2. Right to Education
  3. Principle of Non-Separation of Children and Their Parents.’
Image source – gstatic.com

It should be noted that when a parent is executed, the children are left with a lifelong trauma which could be emotional and psychological, which are in fact a result of the experience itself and on several other cases, is emphasized by the communities within which these children reside.  It is especially used against them in the cases where some mob justice was involved whether the parent actually committed the crime, or not. In extreme scenarios all over the world, the reasons for the execution are most likely to be political.

On 10th October (2019),  the World Coalition Against Death Penalty along with other abolitionist Organisations around the world   are yet to celebrate the 17th World Day Against Death Penalty, – coinciding with the 30th anniversary of the convention on the Rights of the Child,  which this year is dedicated to children whose parents have been sentenced to death or executed.  Under the theme [Children: Unseen Victims of The Death Penalty]

In Uganda, the commemoration will be held at the Human Rights  House in Nsambya, near Tropical High School., a half-day event from 10 am to 3 pm – Attendance is based on Invitation.

Image of mothers with their children in Prison
Image Source – NewVision

Also in Uganda, there have been cases of activism against the death penalty by both convicts and non-convicts, one of the most popular ones being Susan Kigula’s case, read her case as written by Jan BanningHERE.

According to the Uganda Death Penalty Database held by Cornell Law School as of May 14th, 2014, The last civilian execution took place in 1999 while Under the military justice system, the last execution was carried out in 2005.  and the execution methods included:

  • Hanging.
    • Hanging is the legal method of execution for civilian trials, as provided by Section 99(1) of the Trial on Indictments Act. 
  • Shooting.
    • Executions are carried out by firing squad in the military justice system.
Image Source – @ photosearch.com

Amnesty International further reported that there were at least 250 people on death row by the end of 2017. According to available information, no new death sentences were imposed during 2017. Amnesty International also reported that 208 people were on death row at the end of 2016 and similarly that no new death sentences were imposed during that year. The reason for the discrepancy in death row numbers between 2016 and 2017 is unclear; all as per the last update on May 9, 2018. There have been no further executions up to date whilst over the years, there have also been reports of inconsistencies in Ugandan Authorities, in regards to whether Death Penalties should be abolished or not. Read this case on President Museveniby BBC here and recently on 15t Aug 2019, MP’s divided over Death Penalty. Read here.

Alright, that aside. The good news is that on 21st AUG 2019, as reported via BBC, Parliament in Uganda 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.

PLEASE NOTE THAT THE BULLETS BELOW HAVE BEEN EXTRACTED FROM (theeastafrican.co.ke) – Follow Link

  • 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 have been several campaigns to end capital punishment, following a 2009 court ruling in favor 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.]
Image source -gstatic.com

Alright, now that you know about the Death Penalty and its status in Uganda, what do you think about its being a global issue that affects children?

Guilty: Image Source – rebelcircus.com

What are your thoughts on this year’s theme – ‘CHILDREN: UNSEEN VICTIMS OF THE DEATH PENALTY.’?

Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below, or even engage people in your community, in discussions about the Death Penalty and its Effects on Children.

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