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You are likely aware of the 17th commemoration of World Day against the death penalty that happened as published in the last blogs. Check 1 here and 2 here.

Image source: WellsofHope on Facebook

Well, so Thursday 10th October happened to be the day on which this event was held at the Human Rights Centre Nsambya, in Kampala where various parliamentarians, law students, ex-convicts under death penalty, students or children whose parents have been, are under death penalty, had discussion /panel under which the theme ‘ Children: Unseen Victims of the death penalty was explored.

The program started with arrival and registration of attendees and the FHRI stuff, arrival of Chief Guest Hon. Medard Sseggona, and the welcome remarks from Dr. Livingstone Sewanyana, the Executive Director of Foundation for Human Rights Initiative FHRI.

The Chief Guest (Hon Medard Sseggona) explored the topic ‘Understanding the Law Revision (Penalties in Criminal Matters) Miscellaneous Amendments Bill, 2015, in which he emphasized that his area of discussion had been limited to human rights, specifically, the death penalty.

Image source: Wells of Hope on Facebook

“IF YOU ARE TO UNDERSTAND DEATH PENALTY, YOU NEED TO UNDERSTAND THE THEORIES OF CRIME. When I was doing my first year in Law School, we were told that partly the reason for punishment is retribution, whilst others said it is intended to deter those that would ordinarily commit a crime.” – Mr. Ssegona.

Here are more quotes from Honourable Ssegona’s speech.

  • “Please do not stampede parliament to make bad laws because we have bad people. Actually, Deterrence can only be effectively ensured through good laws.” – Hon Sseggona quotes the former Chief Justice Honourable R. Katurebe.
  • “When somebody is going to commit a crime, they do not even contemplate the nature of the crime or even the nature of punishment they are likely to receive.  They are not bothered about that. Actually, they are bothered about two things; 1) Their motivation to commit the crime, i.e. if they were to be paid, ii) Their effectiveness to deserve that pay & and to achieve it, and finally, iii) Their ability and techniques to escape the punishment.
Image Source: Wells of Hope Ministries on Facebook
  • “If you think the death penalty is going to stop crime, forget it.”
  • When you are punishing, you must be able to tell;  i) Is this person still a danger to the society that when we lock him for 10, 20, or 30 years, then release him, Is he going to be another danger?  And if he is going to be a danger, why would he do so, having been excluded for all those years?
  • There is no mathematical assurance that the person you are sentencing to death actually committed the crime.
  • “Invest in measures that mitigate the causes of crime.”

It should be noted that factors that lead to crimes of this nature leading to death sentence include poverty, land battles, battles over wives/women.

We then had presentations from Wells of Hope, a school that is focused on providing education to children of people on death row. These children were mesmerizing, as they recited poetry, and held a discussion on their experience as victims of the death penalty.  Their presentation was not only mind-blowing as they are certainly confident and have a great command of the English language, but the students were also able to tackle emotionally and psychologically boggling questions, topics, which led some to tears, and to some, moments of mental turbulence, frustration, and even reproach. In their conclusion, the students knelt and sent a plea to the president of Uganda HE Yoweri K Museveni, asking him for the permanent removal of the death penalty, for by so doing, it is the children that are killed or numbed, not the actual parents who die there and then. The children also gave insights on how having people on death row encourages an unhealthy cycle where each involved party is seeking vengeance.  

WELLS OF HOPE MINISTRIES is a body that seeks to reach out to prisoners and their families, with great attention given to children with parents in prison. Their values include Christianity, professionalism, accountability, commitment to the poor and oppressed, value & respect for all people, and as well, transparency, while thein Vision is to have ‘ a society where people especially chi9ldren affected by the criminal justice  system get justice and regeneration in their lives.’ Their mission is , to address the needs of prisoners and their families, with great attention being given to children with a parent in prison through sustainable and compassionate programs.’  

Their interventions include; Children of Prisoner care and support, Psychosocial Support In Prison, Psychosocial Support to Caregivers, Rod Not Fish (Sustainability), Prison Evangelism.  Read pdf on Wells of Hope HERE.

Visitors exploring the student’s representations of what the Death Penalty means to them, at the FHRI center in Nsambya, Uganda.

FOUNDATION FOR HUMAN RIGHTS INITIATIVE (FHRI) is an independent, non-governmental non-partisan and not-for-profit human rights advocacy organization.  FHRI’s vision is ‘A human rights and civic culture as a foundation for peace, stability, democracy, social justice and sustainable development in Uganda.’ Whilst their vision is ‘To enhance respect and observance of human rights practices and civic values, promote best practices through training, education, research, advocacy, ICTs, and strategic partnerships. Their core values include Equal opportunity, Result Oriented, teamwork, excellence, and timeliness. Check more about FHRI here.

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