Saturday, September 19, 2020

EU challenges Botswana’s death penalty

The European Union Delegation in Botswana joined other human rights activists in upping the ante in the campaign against death penalty in Botswana, Sunday Standard has learnt. The EU Delegation and Ditshwanelo Human Rights Centre have roped in prominent human right activists in an effort to mobilise public opinion against the death penalty. EU Delegation spokesperson, Bester Gabotlale said the delegation in Botswana and Ditshwanelo have roped in local experts who are expected to make presentations during the commemoration of the World Day Against Death Penalty on 10th October.

Prominent lawyers and senior partner at Ngakagaae Legal Practice Kgosiitsile Ngakaagae will present on Poverty, Access to Justice and the Death penalty while Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Botswana, Dr Sethunya Mosime will present on Poverty, Education and the Death Penalty. The Chairperson of Botswana Institute of Rehabilitation and Reintegration of Offenders Mothei Sejakgomo will present on Poverty, Crime and the Death Penalty

 Gabotlale said this year’s commemoration focuses on the relationship between poverty and the death penalty by highlighting the links between the application of the death penalty, poverty and socio-economic discrimination. He said poverty remains a factor at all stages of the death penalty adding that socio-economic circumstances of an accused in a death penalty proceeding are relevant to an assessment of the crime itself, greatly influence the criminal trial and have a significant impact upon the sentencing process. “And as you may also have observed, people from disadvantaged economic backgrounds are most commonly at risk of execution. While the ultimate aim is to always continue to strive for the complete abolition of the death penalty, it is also important to ensure that retentionist countries provide access to justice for all their people, without prejudice or discrimination,” said Gabotlale.  

While the Human Rights Council this year commended the Botswana government for making progress in implementing the recommendations it accepted during its last Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in 2013, it re-recommended that Botswana should take steps to end the death penalty including by placing a moratorium on capital punishment. 1n 2013, several States had recommended that Botswana either place a moratorium on the death penalty or abolish it. In reply, Minister of Justice Defence and Justice at the time Ramadeluka Seretse asserted that the majority of citizens believe that the death penalty should remain. However, he noted that Botswana needed to comply with international obligations, and so the Government should educate the population on this issue.

The current Minister of Defence Justice and Security Shaw Kgathi said Botswana remains unshaken in its position on death penalty. “You know what the procedure is if there are plans to change the law. Currently our position has not changed as far as the death penalty is concerned,” he said suggesting that a number of Batswana are in favour of the capital punishment.

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