Parliament outlaws mandatory death penalty

The ages long death penalty has been struck off Uganda’s law books with Parliament’s passing of the Law Revision (Penalties in Criminal Matters) Miscellaneous (Amendment) Bill.

The Bill which was privately moved by Busiro East MP Medard Lubega Sseggona who also doubles as the Shadow Minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs was intended to amend the Penal Code Act, chapter 120, the Anti-Terrorism Act, 2002, the UPDF Act, 2005 and the Trial on Indictments Act.

The Bill introduced amendments removing all references to the mandatory death penalty prescribed by the laws and restrict the application of the death penalty to the most serious crimes by converting the maximum penalties prescribed in those laws into life imprisonment.

The amendments therefore give judges discretionary powers to impose the death sentence based on the circumstances and offences committed, according to Veronica Bichetero Eraugu (Kaberamaido) who is also the vice chairperson of the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs committee.

The bill was tabled during the 9th Parliament by former MPs Alice Alaso (Serere Woman) and Fox Odoi (West Budama North).

There are at least 480 death row inmates in the country. The last civilian executions were in 1999 and 2006 for the military.