Last Updated: Tuesday, 31 May 2016, 12:25 GMT

Death Sentences Commuted to Life Imprisonment in Kenya: The Possible Last Step Towards Abolition

Publisher International Federation for Human Rights
Publication Date 5 August 2009
Cite as International Federation for Human Rights, Death Sentences Commuted to Life Imprisonment in Kenya: The Possible Last Step Towards Abolition, 5 August 2009, available at: [accessed 1 June 2016]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Wednesday 5 August 2009

FIDH and KHRC, its member organisation in Kenya, welcome the decision announced on 3 August by the Kenyan President Mr Mwai Kibaki to commute all existing death sentences to life imprisonment. Our organisations consider this important decision as a first step towards the abolition of the death penalty.

This decision, adopted in a country where no death sentence has been carried out since 1987 and which will benefit more than 4000 death row prisoners, complies with the general trend towards the abolition worldwide. It is also consistent with the recent abstention of the Kenyan authorities on the occasion of the adoption by the UN General Assembly of the Resolution on a Moratorium on the Death Penalty in 2007 and 2008.

"This decision is most welcomed as capital punishment violates the right to life, and the death row phenomenon amounts in some cases to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. We hope that this first step will be followed by the abolition de jure of the death penalty in our country" declared Muthoni Wanyeki, KHRC's Executive Director.

Mr Mwai Kibaki requested on the Kenyan government to assess whether the death penalty had any impact on the fight against crime. FIDH and KHRC recall the Kenyan authorities that the deterrent effect of the death penalty has never been demonstrated. It appears indeed that societies which do not enact capital punishment are usually no less protected from crime than those which do.

"The death penalty is contrary to the very notions of human dignity and liberty. Neither principles nor utilitarian considerations can justify the use of capital punishment. Efficient law enforcement agencies and an independent and effective judiciary are the best guarantees for victims of violent crimes – not the death penalty" declared Florence Bellivier, FIDH Secretary General, in charge of the death penalty .

FIDH and KHRC encourage the Kenyan authorities to proceed on the path towards abolition, in particular by implementing the ACHPR resolution adopted at its 44th session in Abuja in November 2008 encouraging African States to immediately adopt a de jure moratorium as a step towards the abolition of the death penalty.

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