Supreme Court abolishes death sentence

By GW Reporter

In a landmark ruling, the Supreme Court has declared the death sentence unconstitutional.

Section 204 of the penal code states that any person found guilty of murder, robbery with violence, treason and other capital offences shall be sentenced to death by hanging.

The court made the landmark ruling on Thursday after a petition by two death row convicts Francis Muruatetu and Wilson Thrombus.

Justice Njoki Ndung’u ruled that the section “is out of sync and cannot stand as it is inconsistent with the constitution”.

It sent the petitioners back to the High Court for another hearing on sentence on priority basis.

The highest court in the land further directed the Attorney General, the Director of Public Prosecution and other agencies to prepare a detailed professional review of cases regarding sentencing.

The Supreme Court also ruled that any court dealing with capital offences should be allowed to use judicial discretion when delivering judgements.

Although death sentences are frequently handed down, the last time a convict was hanged was July 1987, when Kenya Air Force senior private Hezekiah Ochuka was hanged for the 1982 coup attempt.

Last July, the Court of Appeal unanimously held that mandatory death sentences are unconstitutional as they violate the right to life.

It also said that holding a person on death row for more than three years is unconstitutional.

In October last year, President Uhuru Kenyatta commuted 2,747 death row convicts to life imprisonment.

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