Supreme Court gives factors to be considered before recalling one's death penalty

A ruling by a three-judge bench led by Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu, Justice Njoki Ndung’u and Justice Jacton Ojwang pronounced mandatory death penalties for capital offenses unconstitutional.

The Supreme Court on December 14 quoted Section 204 of the Penal Code, which states that mandatory death sentences are detrimental. The ruling, however, does not affect the validity of the death sentence.

The ruling came after talks in the topic with big organizations such as The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, the International Commission of Jurists Kenyan chapter, Legal Resources Foundation, Katiba Institute and the death penalty project taking part.

The talks leading to this ruling were nudged by two petitioners who asked the court to scrap off the mandatory death penalty. The two, Francis Karioko Muruatetu and Wilson Thirimbu Mwangi have been convicts for the last fourteen years. They were arrested for the murder of businessman Lawrence Githinji Magondu.

In Kenya, cases that commonly attract punishment by death are usually murder and robbery with violence.

For the past seven years, over 50% of the counties under the United Nations (UN) umbrella have scrapped off death penalties on convicts.

The ruling means that over 7,000 convicts awaiting the hangman’s moose will have a chance to redeem themselves over fresh sentences.

Some of the factors that will be considered in determining if the convicts should escape death are;

Age of the offender

The number of times the offender is accused

Whether the offender pleaded guilty or not

Current behavior of the offender

Whether the offense was gender violence related

Whether the offender shows remorse

Chances for rehabilitation on and social re-adaption of the offender