Ditshwanelo commemorates World Day Against the Death Penalty

DITSHWANELO – The Botswana Centre for Human Rights joins the world to commemorate the 17th Annual World Day Against the Death Penalty 2019.

The global theme this year is ‘Children: unseen victims of the death penalty’.

The day was first recognised in 2003 and is commemorated annually. It focuses on the continuing use of the death penalty around the world. It also aims to raise awareness about the death penalty and the need for its abolition.

The World Day against the Death Penalty seeks to stop the cycle of violence. Execution is not the long term solution to crime.

A moratorium on the death penalty as part of the review of the function and sustainable effects of the criminal justice system, is the useful starting point.

Botswana still retains the death penalty both in law and in practice. In the SADC region, Botswana remains the only country which still carries out executions. The last execution was carried out on 25 May 2018. In Botswana, the death penalty has only been used for cases of murder. This, in spite of the capital punishment being a penalty for treason, piracy, espionage and mutiny.

According to an article by Louis Linel published on April 08, 2019, it is reported that ‘the Human Rights Committee or the Committee on the Rights of the Child encourages the remaining retentionist States to reduce the use of the death penalty, taking into account in particular its impact on children’.

It continues to state that ‘in the name of the best interests of the child, which are enshrined not only in the International Convention on the Rights of the Child but also in the conclusions of various international and regional human rights institutions, major reforms are necessary’.1

DITSHWANELO has been working for the abolition of the death penalty in Botswana since 1995. We continue to maintain that the use of the death penalty is retributive and not restorative or healing our society. We advocate for effective and sustainable responses to crime.

The responses should include both punishment of the offender and the healing of the families of both the victim and the offender.

DITSHWANELO condemns and remains opposed to the use of the death penalty as a means of punishment. We reiterate that our Government should take the lead in condemning (and not, itself using) such use of force, which leads to the loss of life and instead strive to protect life, including that of the offender.

Our Government should, in addressing the greater challenge of societal degeneration, look to alternatives to addressing the cause of increasing anti-social behaviour which may result in the committing of capital offences.  

DITSHWANELO remains opposed to crime in all its forms and steadfast in its belief in the responsibility to protect the right to life. We reiterate that the loss of life is always deeply regrettable.

DITSHWANELO therefore, urges our Government to seriously explore other forms of punishment for capital offences as a demonstration of its commitment to respect the dignity of all human beings – including that of offenders.

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