High Court in Kenya Rules Hundreds of Death Sentences Unconstitutional

kenya flagOn July 30, the Court of Appeal in Kenya unanimously held that mandatory death sentences are unconstitutional, violating the right to life and inflicting inhuman punishment since the law does not provide individuals the opportunity to present mitigating evidence.  As a result, hundreds of prisoners will be given new sentencing hearings at which they will be able to present reasons why they should be spared a death sentence.  New procedures will have to be adopted for conducting such hearings.  The old law required a death sentence as the only punishment for defendants convicted of murder.  The Court of Appeal also spoke strongly against extended incarceration on death row, stating that holding a person on death row for more than 3 years would be unconstitutional.

(Press release, The Death Penalty Project (London, England), July 30, 2010).  Kenya has not carried out an execution in 23 years.  See International and Time on Death Row.