Members of Parliament have rejected a proposal to scrap the death penalty from the laws, saying it does not provide justification for the move.
A report of the Sectoral Committee on Legal and Parliamentary Affairs on the law revision (penalties in criminal matters) miscellaneous (amendment) Bill, 2015, indicates that the proposal is in conflict with the title of the Bill.
“The intention of the Bill, is among others, to remove the mandatory death penalty prescribed by the Penal Code Act, the UPDF Act as well as the Anti-Terrorism Act as well as to restrict the death penalty to certain specified serious crimes by converting other provisions prescribing a death penalty in these enactments into imprisonment for life,” the report reads in part.
The legislators say the proposal is contrary to best international practice because it removes the death penalty from some of the most serious crimes for which the death sentence is ordinarily prescribed.
According to the report, the matters that the Bill sets out to address have been addressed under the Sentencing Guidelines for Courts of Judicature (Practice) Directions 2013 issued by the Chief Justice.
The proposal on the Law Revision seeks to restrict the application of the death penalty to ‘the most serious crimes’ and remove the restriction on mitigation in case of convictions that carry a death penalty and related matters.
The Bill was necessitated by the cases of Attorney General versus Susan Kigula & 417 others, Supreme Court Constitutional Appeal No. 3 of 2006, Tigo Stephen Versus Uganda, Supreme Court Criminal Appeal No 8 of 2009 and international instruments where Uganda is a signatory to the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights.
However, Dr Livingstone Sewanyana, the executive director of the Foundation for Human Rights Initiative, yesterday said the purpose of the Bill was to the effect that the Supreme Court decision in regard to mandatory death penalty are unconstitutional and also reduce the number of offences that attract death from 28 to one which is murder.
“No way does the Bill seek to amend the Constitution and I am not aware of any legislative measures to effect the provisions of the Bill. Neither does it conflict with other legislation,” Dr Sewanyana said.
Ms Doreen Kyazze, the country manager of Penal Reform International, said the report seems to have missed key issues in the Kigula court decision where the Supreme Court recommended that Parliament enact a law effecting its decision.