Ditshwanelo – the Centre for Human Rights said last week that it will not stop its campaign against the death penalty despite the challenges it faces.
Addressing the media last week, Ditshwanelo Director, Alice Mogwe, said the question of abolishing the death penalty abolition cannot be solved over night, adding that it is a process, not an event.
This year’s World Day against the Death Penalty was held under the theme “Families of victims of Murder.”
The theme, according to Mogwe, was precipitated and triggered by the pressure from the public critics who accused ‘the Death Penalty abolition proponents including Ditshwanelo’ of a biased approach which neglected the rights of the victims of murder with undue emphasis on the rights of the culprit.
“Over the years during our public-awareness campaigns, including the World against the Death Penalty event of 10th October 2012, which we held at the University of Botswana, it has become clear that the question of the victim and victim’s family need to be urgently addressed.”
Ditshwanelo, Mogwe acknowledged, has often been accused of focusing only on the rights of the murderer without dealing with the rights of the victim and the victim’s family.
“The effect of this has been to limit our ability to engage constructively with the public. This has been of serious concern to us,” she said.
Ditshwanelo as the Centre for Human Rights has been involved in working for the abolition of the death penalty since 1995.
Though they have made strides, they are still facing challenges which call for stakeholders to engage in a healthy and productive debate.
Mogwe added that public consciousness is critical in every subject of national importance.
Speaking at the same event Chairman of MISA-Botswana, Modise Maphanyane, stressed the importance of political-will from the powers that be.
“The need for political-will is more than just needed. Politicians are legislators. Besides they command a large following hence their inclusion is imperative. We aim to target politicians in closed-door meetings,” Maphanyane said.
On the issue of a referendum to seek and accrue public opinion on the matter, Maphanyane said: “The issue of a referendum can’t be avoided, but one ought to appreciate that before voting, the nation need to be informed in order to make a proper and informed decision.”
Responding to The Telegraph question regarding the government’s stance, the Private Secretary to the Minister of Defense, Justice and Security, Madoda Nasha said: “We take the issue with the seriousness it deserves. We are not, in anyway opposed to start a national dialogue on death-penalty issue. In fact we are ready.”