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Last Updated: Friday, 13 August, 2004, 08:40 GMT 09:40 UK
Swift justice: Is flogging in Africa out-dated?
Arrested Immigrants
Many Zimbabweans come to Botswana looking for jobs
The government of Botswana has said it will not stop the practice of flogging Zimbabweans found to have broken the law.

Responding to criticism from a Zimbabwean minister who described it as "primitive", Oliphant Mfa, assistant minister of presidential affairs in Botswana, said Zimbabweans are treated the same as Batswana.

Thousands of Zimbabweans cross into Botswana every year in search of work.

Certain crimes like pick-pocketing and petty theft are punishable by corporal punishment in Botswana instead of jail terms. Culprits, according to Mr Ma, are given two or three lashes and told to go home and not do it again.

What do you think of flogging criminals? Is it a barbaric practice that should have no place in the 21st century? Or is it a cheaper, faster and more effective way of dispensing justice? Does your country use corporal punishment? Do you think other categories of criminals should be caned?

This debate has now closed. Thank you for your comments.

The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far:

Flogging of criminals is a very good act for Africa because it is fastest way of punishment for them.
Safiatu Kargbo, Freetown, Sierra Leone

If you can't afford to send people to prison maybe a good flogging would be effective. Maybe we could start doing that here to shape up some teenage punks.
Jeff Connolly, London Ontario, Canada

As a Zimbabwean living in London I deplore the fact that Zimbabweans are being victimised this way. Having said that, I believe that the efficacy of corporal punishment can only be established by examining statistics on the numbers of repeat offenders. I'd like to see those. My personal thoughts are that I would rather receive the lash than be locked up for weeks or months at a time, further reducing my ability to earn a living away from crime.
Mark, London, UK

Although I do not believe adults should be flogged, I will say that flogging criminals seems to be more humane than the death penalty. Both methods are bad, however, to me the death penalty is more barbaric than flogging someone.
CFO, Delta State, Nigeria

Flogging is the only remaining cheap humane act, and therefore should not be stopped. Imagine how much Botswana will have to spend if they imprison the border jumpers.
Gaolaolwe Ralotsia, Botswana

Flogging adults is just too barbaric and archaic. It is also in contravention of the human rights declaration offenders should be tried in a court of law and sentenced accordingly. It is only a court of law that can impose a sentence to any offender in any country that have a rule of law. There is a risk of flogging innocent people if not tried.
John Chiwawa, Harare, Zimbabwe

It becomes more of a practical situation than a moral issue for the Botswana government. Going against the law does require punishment of different sorts of crime, however, agreeing on flogging is to agree on stoning in India and Pakistan. Both are morally wrong but we must put ourselves in their shoes and realise they are more populated with an incredibly high unemployment rate than north America, Europe or the Middle East. If they were to punish them by throwing them in jail it would become overpopulated and perhaps develop into homes for them rather than a prison.
Amina, Alexandria, Egypt

I think flogging is a better way to enforce punishment for petty crimes rather than sending thieves to jail for 3-30 years. Send murders and rapists and such to jail, not thieves. Humiliating them with a public beating is better i think. That would save our tax dollars.
Tanya, Brooklyn, USA

I see part of the argument is to not "humiliate" people in that fashion. Why do we care if criminals are humiliated? If they did the crime, let them be humiliated! Maybe they will think twice before stealing again. Sorry, no sympathy here.
Jennifer, Harrisburg USA

Some Africa countries and people need to book a date with the shrink, and Botswana is one of those countries. Why wouldn't other countries look down at us as primitive savages. I am appalled and dismay with such stone-aged behaviour on the part of Botswana. You can't have your cake and eat it at the same time. Botswana and other African countries that indulge in such barbaric practice should decide in what age they want to live in. Democracy and basic human rights and primitive barbarity can not co-exist.
Denzel, Liberia/Chile

I think it is a good thing to flog and let go people who commit such minor crimes. It will serve as a warning to those who want to commit such crimes. When westerners compare this form of justice system to their, it seems like cruelty, but most African countries don't have the modern prison complexes these western countries have to house people who pick-pockets.
Vamilar, Brooklyn Park, MN, USA

Flogging does seem terribly barbaric. Maybe we have been babied in the developed world for so long, incarceration, where a criminal is out of sight and out of mind is just more palatable. Or maybe it is just the thought of flogging Africans as it is synonymous with the white's historical repression of the black. I think if they tickled instead of flogged, it would be just as effective. Nobody gets left with physical scars, but a 10 minute tickling can be really painful... and much more palatable to our developed world sensitivities.
Craig Stanton, Toronto, Canada

Flogging managed to turn Singapore from a Colombia-style society to one of the safest places on earth. It is the most effective method of discipline especially when it involves criminals.
Goh Tong, USA

I'm sure you would think twice about doing it again but in the case of the Zimbabweans in Botswana what do they have to lose , I mean they fleeing Zimbabwe in the first place so if they need to steal to feed themselves then you aren't going to stop them no matter how many times you flog them. What right does Zimbabwe have to criticise anyway?
Simon, Bristol , England

When I look at the west am surprised to see people who are openly disrespectful to authority figures as sentences are "friendly" in terms of fines which almost anyone can afford. The cane is feared by almost everyone and should it be introduced so many disrespectful delinquents will be shaped up.
Felo, USA

Outdated according to Western standards? If flogging a criminal works then let it continue. If it does not work then it is up to the African government to control their punishment. Not Western liberals.
Tony, USA

The act of flogging a human being is very barbaric! Even the flogging of animals ought not to be, but it remains the only way to get our messages across to some of them. As humans, we are more advanced mentally, and flogging should not be entertained in any form.
Ekundayo Shittu, Massachusetts, USA

Yes I do agree because the African jails are more than hell and once they flog you its over and you don't do it again.
Ismail Yusufu, South Africa

Flogging is barbaric. So are most crimes. Life is a series of choices, decisions, and consequences. Do the people know what conditions result in flogging? Can they reasonably avoid those conditions? If so, then the people are choosing flogging - assuming they have a fair system of determining guilt.
Quentin Smith, Texas

I would rather they be flogged and let to go rather than be imprisoned. One Zimbabwean to another. Zimbabwe is pretending to be a protector of human rights. Surely prison for shoplifting is a lot worse than flogging.
Kn, Detroit , USA from Zimbabwe

Flogging is acceptable in Botswana and in Africa. Zimbabweans should not complain of this light form of punishment whenever they break laws in Botswana. Let them fight their draconian Mugabe laws and form of governance in Zimbabwe. Flogging psychologically instils embracement such that people are afraid to break the law.
Zumabiko, Cape Town, South Africa

Well, its better than beheading, I see absolutely nothing wrong with it!
Jennifer Ogah , Nigeria

Being a Motswana and having lived under this law since I can remember I do not see flogging as barbaric. It is effective quick form of justice meted out only to men on their buttocks (it use to be the back). I do find the Zimbabwe minister's comments on a sovereign state laws condescending to say the least. If Zimbabweans do not want flogging, they should not come do crime in Botswana. Stay in your lovely unbarbaric country.
Benson Kgaudi, Lobatse, Botswana

If that is the law in Botswana, it should be applied evenly to everybody whether citizen or foreigners from any part of the world within Botswana's boundaries. In short foreigners should respect and obey the law of the country they are visiting.
Wanjiru, Kenya

Flogging is an accepted form of punishment for males under our customary law in Botswana. It is a VERY effective punishment against petty criminals and others involved in practices such as stock theft and inappropriate behaviour e.g. using insulting language. I would like to inform Mark in London that in Setswana culture the flogging of offenders has been in practice since time immemorial and is not a recent invention intended to victimise any particular group of people. In fact in some cases offenders are given the choice of either receiving a few lashes or spending some time locked up. I can assure you that the majority opt for the former.
Bonnie , Gaborone, Botswana

Flogging is not only "primitive," but it is also the after taste of colonialism.
Kuria Burugu, Kenyan in USA

Flogging is not barbaric what is barbaric is sending people to the electric chair, cutting off someone's hands after a crime.
Olukris, London


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