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Campaign against the Death Penalty.


Objective: To advocate for the progressive abolition of the death penalty and implementation of humane alternatives.

The decade old campaign against the death penalty spearheaded by FHRI has evolved into a regional one. The precedent set by the Susan Kigula Supreme court ruling in 2009 has had multiplier effects: the release of some inmates on death row; the commutation of death sentences to life; the development of sentencing guidelines in capital cases that limit the use of the death sentence; the formulation of the Private Member’s Bill, titled, Law Revision (Penalties in Criminal Matters) Miscellaneous Amendments Bill, 2013; the reduction in the number of death row inmates; and the on-going mitigation hearings for prisoners on death row. In this five year programme, FHRI builds on these achievements while taking the regional and international approach.

With the East African Civil Society Coalition, regional and international advocacy missions are undertaken with international NGOs like the World Coalition against the Death Penalty and International Commission against the Death Penalty. Advocacy links local and regional issues with the broader international movement on the abolition of the death penalty.

At the East African regional level, the on-going campaign has prioritized legislative advocacy to limit the use of the death penalty, capacity building for prison staff on humane treatment of prisoners on death row, dialogue within regional and international human rights treaty bodies on death penalty trends in East Africa and coalition building for effective advocacy.

At the international front, FHRI made significant contribution to the development of new human rights standards seeking to limit the application of the death penalty. FHRI was part of the drafters of the draft Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights on the abolition of the death penalty in 2014. The African Commission adopted the protocol at the 56th Session in Banjul, Gambia in April 2015.

Similarly, FHRI was part of a team of practitioners that contributed to the review of the Standard Minimum Rules on the Treatment of Prisoners now referred to as the Mandela Rules. The revised rules were adopted during the 24th Session on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice in Vienna, Austria in May 2015.

Owing to the sustained mass campaign against the death penalty, the number of inmates on death row declined further from 292 (18 female and 274 male) reported in 2014, to 223 (13 female and 210 male) as of 16th February 2015. Only one death sentence was handed down in the last six months. This is an outstanding achievement, compared to the 400 plus inmates, when the project first started.

The downward trend in the number of accused persons condemned to death, the adoption of the draft Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights on the abolition of the death penalty and the 2014 historic abstention during the vote on the UN moratorium on the death penalty signals a fundamental change in public opinion and an official end to the opposition of the abolitionist movement by government. Considered together, these developments are consistent with the overall objective of the program and speak to overall success of the project.