TANZANIA: DEATH PENALTY ‘HERE TO STAY’, SAYS LAW REFORM COMMISSION

DAR ES SALAAM, The Law Reform Commission of Tanzania has responded to an outcry by human rights bodies on abolition of the death penalty, insisting that currently there is no justification to implement such a call.

The Commission's Executive Secretary, Casmir Kyuki, said that in recent years, the Commission conducted several researches on the same subject after which results showed that majority wanted the capital punishment to stay.

I don't think we, at the Law Reform Commission of Tanzania, have any reason to initiate the process of writing a law to abolish death penalty, because researches conducted show that people want the verdict to stay, Kyuki insisted.

He added: If my memory serves me right, we have about three reports compiled from researches conducted on the same subject. In all the reports, majority of Tanzanians called for upholding of the sentence.

Kyuki said individuals who insisted on the abolition of capital punishment ought to take note that they were dealing with people's lives, adding that one of the key roles of the State was to ensure life was protected.

The law states clearly that if one is proven beyond reasonable doubt of committing murder, he/she should also be subjected to death penalty. However, commuting the sentence is again vested in the powers of the President, he explained.

The President, under the powers vested upon him by the constitution, can let inmates on death row serve life imprisonment sentences or thirty years instead of signing execution warrant, he observed.

Touching on the statement by President John Magufuli recently that he will not sign execution warrant for any inmate on death row, Kyuki said 'it doesn't mean that the President can indeed not sign it.

He said the Commission has, at different occasions, gone an extra mile to explain about the country's position on death penalty to the international human rights bodies.

Tanzania is yet to sign and ratify the 2nd Optional Protocol to the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights of 1989 which pushes countries to abolish death penalty.

The Commission is an independent institution established under the Law Reform Commission Act, 1980 to constantly keep under review all laws of the country with the view to attaining a systematic development of the laws through reform.

Recently, human rights bodies called for abolition of the penalty as it was against the fundamental right - the right to live. The call to abolish the capital punishment comes at a time when the number of inmates sentenced to death in the country keeps soaring.

This month alone the High Court, Sumbawanga Zone, sentenced nine people, six of whom being relatives, to death after convicting them of various offences.

According to data obtained by the Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC) from Tanzania Prison Services on July 10, 2015, there were 472 individuals under death sentence, of which 452 are men while 20 are women. No other recent data have been made public to date.

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK