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Death penalty ‘traumatises jail warders’

Tuesday July 26 2011

By NATION REPORTER

The men who lead death row inmates to the gallows are traumatised on surrendering a prisoner to the hangman, a forum has been told.

Uganda’s Commissioner of Prisons Johnson Byabashaija said convicts wait for nine years for their sentences to be confirmed, by which time they would have formed bonds with the warders.

“It is ironical that we are the ones to lead them to the gallows after being with them for so long. It is very traumatising even for us,” said Dr Byabashaija.

He was speaking during the second day of a meeting of judges, commissioners of prisons and legal practitioners from East Africa on the death penalty at the Silver Springs Hotel in Nairobi.
Views clashed

But his views clashed with those of judges, who on Monday rejected calls to abolish the death penalty.

The judges from Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania argued that no man has the right to kill and the offenders of such a crime should suffer a similar fate.

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Dr Byabashaija called for life sentences, arguing that death sentences were not even punishment enough.

“We are all going to die anyway. They should be live so that they can feel the repercussions of their actions,” he said.

Tanzania’s representative to the East African Law Society, Mr Tito Byenka, said hanging was inhumane and suggested other means through which the death penalty could be carried out “such as lethal injection”.

The meeting ends on Wednesday.