Ditshwanelo Relentless Against Death Penalty

Some of the panelists at discussion.PIC MORERI SEJAKGOMO
Some of the panelists at discussion.PIC MORERI SEJAKGOMO

Ditshwanelo, The Botswana Centre for Human Rights continues to make strides in campaigning for the abolishment of death penalty despite facing harsh backlash and uncompromising leaders.

On Friday the centre in conjunction with other partners including the Embassy of France and the University of Botswana Law Department joined the world in commemorating World Day Against Death Penalty. Ditshwanelo kept its momentum through a panel discussion at the UB in trying to bring the nation’s leaders into considering the abolition of death penalty.

David Modiega, a Ditshwanelo representative, said the centre continued to raise awareness against death penalty and its implications not only to the person executed but the society at large.

Modiega said the use of the death penalty undermined human dignity. Besides, he added, there was no evidence that death penalty deterred murder. “No criminal justice system is perfect and any miscarriage of justice leading to its imposition is irreversible and irreparable,” he said. “Many countries that practise death penalty do not always meet fair trial.”

Ditshwanelo also condemned the hasty and secretive nature of executions, as the families of the offender were never informed of the date of the execution and the offender buried in an unmarked grave.

The centre maintained that both the death penalty and the delay in carrying it out constituted cruel and degrading punishment for the offender and his or her family.

An ex-convict, Akanyang Korong, took the audience behind the cells. He gave an insight into the life of a convict, including death row inmates. Four UB law students: two for death penalty and two against it, interrogated the matter. Elizabeth Mokgwathi and Mpule Kgetsi showed flaws that crippled the judicial system and how the death penalty might not be idle. One of the flaws, the duo said, was that a wrong conviction and execution could be carried out.

“The system as it is flawed and no man is perfect, and we believe that the death penalty is not idle because if an offender has been executed and later exonerated, there is no how that person can be brought back to life,” Mokgwathi said.

Two pro-death penalty law students: Loane Moreki and Omphile Nkokou said its abolishment would erase the essence of justice.

Moreki said death penalty was introduced as a deterrent measure and that it should be upheld and the criminal justice system perfected to avoid wrongful convictions.

Nkokou said since the introduction of death penalty, Botswana carried out more than 40 executions but none had been reported as wrongful.

“The system might be flawed but in evidence there has never been any reports of wrongful executions,” she said. “In the instance where a wrongful conviction has been carried I would advocate for compensation to the family since there is no how a person can be brought back. That is what Ditshwanelo should advocate for, not the abolishment.”

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