In July 2013, the Secretary-General to the UN General Assembly published a report on the question of the death penalty.
We were pleased to see that the Death Penalty Project’s work (and its impact) is recognised throughout the Report. In particular:-
1. Mandatory use of the death penalty
Recent judgments delivered by the High Courts in Nigeria and Kenya were reported. In Nigeria, the High Court of Lagos ruled that the mandatory imposition of the death penalty was unconstitutional and the High Court in Kisumu, Kenya ruled that the death penalty for robbery with violence and attempted robbery with violence should be interpreted as a discretionary sentence. Both rulings relied on the decisions of Kigula & 416 Others v Attorney General of Uganda and Francis Kafatayeni v Attorney General of Malawi – successful challenges to the mandatory death penalty we previously assisted in.
2. Fair trial guarantees
Our report on the death penalty in Japan, which highlights aspects of Japan’s domestic legal order that does not meet its international legal obligations under the ICCPR and the Safeguards Guaranteeing the Protection of the Rights of those Facing the Death Penalty, including fair trial guarantees, was cited.
3. Persons with mental or intellectual disabilities
The issues surrounding the imposition of the death penalty on persons with mental illnesses/ impairment were highlighted. In particular, some of our recent cases before the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council and the Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal were cited and the importance of the provision of expert medical evidence in all capital trials, especially where the death penalty is still mandatory was noted.
Photo credit: Harshil Shah (Flickr, Creative Commons), https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/