Kenya : an overview of the first seminar on the abolition of the death penalty in East Africa
Event, In the field
On May 30 and 31, 2022, in Nairobi, ECPM and Crime Si Poa, Kenyan partner association of the event, organized a regional and multi-stakeholder seminar on the death penalty, with a special focus on East Africa. This was the first event of its kind in the region.
The purpose of the multi-stakeholder seminar was to organize an exchange between abolitionist actors from six different countries: Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Sierra Leone.
With the exception of Sierra Leone, which abolished in October 2021, the countries represented are in a long-term moratorium and have not yet taken final steps towards abolishing the death penalty, although positive steps have been taken. In East Africa, the path to abolition is tentative but present. It was therefore important to highlight the achievements in Kenya (abolition of the mandatory death penalty in 2017 despite a stepback in 2021 that made this abolition partial), Tanzania (commutations in December 2020) in Uganda (abolition of the mandatory death penalty for certain crimes in 2019, including the anti-terrorism law) and to discuss strategies to develop abolitionist strategies in the region. In order to fuel the discussions and exchange experiences, examples of actions undertaken in other parts of the continent were presented by our African partners – in particular our partners from the DRC and Cameroon, with whom ECPM has been working for many years.
The invited speakers represented the main actors of the abolition of capital punishment: parliamentarians, national human rights institutions, civil society representatives, actors of the penal chain, former death row inmates, but also the young generation whose mission is to continue the fight for abolition.
During the two days, the 50 participants were able to exchange on the particular situation of their country as well as on different themes such as the mandatory death penalty, the conditions of detention, the death penalty and impunity, the lack of transparency or the use of the death penalty as a political tool.
The work of lawyers and judges was highlighted as well as the crucial role of political authorities such as parliamentarians and national human rights institutions.
This seminar allowed the establishment of 5 roadmaps, one for each type of actor represented (youth, NHRIs, parliamentarians, civil society and lawyers) establishing the measures to be taken by these actors in their country or at the regional level in order to move towards abolition.
On this occasion, the Forum of African Parliamentarians on the Abolition of the Death Penalty was created by parliamentarians from Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, Cameroon and DRCongo.
This event ended with the Kenyan delegation of the Abolition Now Tour, a group of young people between 18 and 35 years old who presented the advocacy actions carried out in the framework of their project that will be presented at the World Congress against the death penalty in Berlin in November 2022.
In addition, it was an opportunity for this group of young people to exchange with the participants on the different challenges they will face as abolitionist activists – thus establishing a dialogue between experts and the young generation.