SEPTEMBER 13, 2010: 167 Moved From Death Bench to Life Sentence

167 Moved From Death Bench to Life Sentence

SOURCE: The Monitor

By Emmanuel Mulondo


At least 167 inmates on death row have had their sentences reduced to life imprisonment, following a Supreme Court ruling.

Some of the inmates include former Tooro kingdom prime minister John Sanyu Katuramu and two accomplices, who are accused of killing Prince Happy Kijjanangoma. Doreen Mureeba who was jailed for murdering a pregnant co-wife and her step son, is also a beneficiary of the new sentence.

"One hundred and fifty inmates qualified by the time the court order was made but as time goes by, over 10 more have qualified. The number is now 167," Prisons spokesperson Frank Baine told this newspaper last week.

The Supreme Court had in January ruled that death row convicts be hanged within three years, saying holding them for long, subjects them to double punishment.

Accordingly, the court reduced sentences for convicts who had been on death row for more than three years, to life imprisonment. According to the Uganda Prisons Act, life imprisonment carries 20 years.

Judiciary spokesman Elias Kisawuzi told Daily Monitor at the weekend that there are divergent opinions on the meaning of life imprisonment. "Some [judges] say life imprisonment should mean imprisonment for life, others say we should stick to what is in the Prisons Act," Mr Kisawuzi said.

According to statistics seen by this newspaper from the Prisons department, 57 of the beneficiaries of the January Supreme Court ruling are in Luzira Prison and another 109 are in Kirinya Prison - Jinja. There are five women in total.

The last executions were in 1999. President Museveni signed 27 death warrants which caused global condemnations. The Foundation for Human Rights Initiative, a local NGO has been carrying a campaign against the death penalty.

Over 100 condemned prisoners petitioned the Constitutional Court arguing that the death penalty was unconstitutional, inhuman and cruel. The court dismissed the petition but the Supreme Court ruled that holding convicts for over three years without hanging them was extra punishment.

The last executions were in 1999. President Museveni signed 27 death warrants which caused global condemnations. The Foundation for Human Rights Initiative, a local NGO has been carrying a campaign against the death penalty.

Over 100 condemned prisoners petitioned the Constitutional Court arguing that the death penalty was unconstitutional, inhuman and cruel. The court dismissed the petition but the Supreme Court ruled that holding convicts for over three years without hanging them was extra punishment.

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