Taskforce recommends parole for death row prisoners

Written By: Margaret Kalekye/George Kithuka
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Ruth Kamande commonly known as Miss Lang'ata was handed the maximum death penalty for stabbing her boyfriend 25 times in 2015
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A taskforce established by the Attorney General is recommending the commuting of all death penalties in the country to life sentences.

The team says those serving life in prison should also be liable for parole after having served some years in prison if they demonstrate that they have reformed.

It was the sentencing to death of Miss Lang’ata Prison 2016 beauty pageant winner Ruth Kamande last month for the murder of her boyfriend that elicited heated debate on the social media on whether she really deserved a date with the hangman.

Most of those who criticized the judgment based their argument on the Supreme Court ruling of 14th December 2017, that a mandatory nature of death sentence as provided for in section 204 of the penal code was against the constitution.

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But the AG’s office said it did not abolish the death sentence in December 2017 but rather gave courts the discretion of sentencing similar cases on an individual basis.

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Amnesty International expressed its displeasure with the decision by Lady Justice Jessie Lesiit to sentence boyfriend killer Ruth Kamande to death terming it as ‘retrogressive.’

The agency’s noted that the mode of punishment meted on Kamande was cruel.

“We are concerned that Kenya continues to use this cruel, inhumane and outdated mode of punishment. This sentence is a blow to Kenya’s progressive record in commuting death sentences to terms of imprisonment,” said the agency in a statement.

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Amnesty International further asked for the immediate commuting of her sentence to life imprisonment to allow for rehabilitation.

Read related: In her mitigation, the beauty queen expressed her remorse about what happened to her leading to the death of her lover.

She regretted the incident, saying it was unintentional and since then, she has been engaged in various activities at Langat Women Prison remand.

Last year, she sat the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education examination at the prison and scored an A-. She is now a trained paralegal.

According to proposals by the team that has 12 months to conclude its work, death sentence ought to be replaced by life imprisonment that would be dictated by the intensity of the offense committed.

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The convict would also be entitled to a parole after serving no less than 15 years in prison.

Between 2011 and 2018 more than 6000 convicts were sentenced to death in Kenya as the sentence remain in law but not in practice.

Data from the national bureau of statistics show that 2700 were convicted to face the hangman in 2014 alone.

According to Amnesty International, 101 countries including 21 from Africa continent have abolished the death penalty for all crimes in law, while 140 have abolished the death penalty in law or practice.

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