The European Union and the member-state diplomats in Kenya have praised President Uhuru Kenyatta’s decision to commute all death sentences for more than 2,700 inmates who remained on death row.
Kenyatta announced the decision and held a signing ceremony on Monday afternoon. The prisoners will now serve life sentences, a move welcomed by the EU Heads of Mission in Kenya and others.
“President Kenyatta’s action reaffirms Kenya’s position as one of the large and growing majority of countries around the world to have ended the use of the death penalty in law or in practice,” the EU statement issued Wednesday said. The EU also welcomed steps by the African Union toward adopting an Additional Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Abolition of the Death Penalty.
As of January 2016, Kenya was listed among African nations that still have legal capital punishment but rarely use it in practice. Those nations also include Niger, Ghana, and the Central African Republic.
The general trend in the continent of Africa is to abolish the death penalty, according to FIACAT, a global NGO focused on ending torture and the death penalty that works with the ACHPR. Most AU member states, including South Africa, Senegal and Benin, have legally ended the death penalty, while 17 nations retain both death penalty laws and practice. They include Sudan, Ethiopia and Uganda.
“As friends of Kenya,” the EU diplomats said, “it is our hope that President Kenyatta’s decision will turn out to be an important step towards the de jure abolishment of capital punishment in Kenya as well.”
Image: President Uhuru Kenyatta, Kenya