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Last Updated: Friday, 21 January 2005, 11:05 GMT
Should Africa ban the death penalty?
Prison cell in East Africa
The Ugandan government argues the death sentence is a deterrent
More than 400 prisoners on Uganda's death row this week launched a legal challenge against capital punishment - the lawful infliction of death as punishment.

The prisoners are especially opposed to hanging, which they consider a cruel and degrading punishment and therefore unlawful.

The challenge is being supported by Uganda's department of prisons because they say hangings traumatise wardens.

But the Ugandan government argues that the death sentence is a strong deterrent against crime and should be retained.

What do you think about the death penalty? Should it be banned and prisoners sentenced to life imprisonment instead? Or does it force people to take greater responsibility for their actions? Is hanging any less cruel than other methods of execution like lethal injection or electrocution?

Let us know your views by using the form on the right.

A selection of your comments will be broadcast on the BBC's Focus on Africa programme on Saturday 22 January.


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

The death penalty is by all means - lethal injection, gallows, shooting - ineffectual at best and savagely cruel at worse. It is high time those countries that practice it learnt that paying one back in one's coin is not the panacea to their problems. Simply rehabilitate these people and show them the right path!
Victor Nwokocha, New York City, USA.

The death penalty does not bring back those who are killed. The death penalty must, however, be retained as a deterrent and used only in extreme situations of premeditated murder.
Kabango Kabango, Malawi

Is the death penalty cruel? What a question! Of course it is cruel! The real issue is whether this cruelty is justified. In the case of murder, I believe that the death penalty may be permissible, (although hanging does cross the line there are more humane methods). In Europe we have the resources to attempt the rehabilitation of criminals. Why should a country spend for this if they are struggling against starvation and disease?
Oliver, France

Death penalty should not be banned, if prisoners say it is cruel then why should they continue to commit crime?
Mosa, Maseru, Lesotho

Capital punishment for what ever form of crime is unaacceptable. It is cruel and degrading to say the least. It is neither a deterrent nor a remedy to the victims or their families. Moreover, it is not reversable in case of miscarriage of justice. There are in prison many innocent souls.
Adam Mfundisi, Gaborone, Botswana

The death penalty should be banned because only people who can't afford good lawyers end up on death row.
Dagmar Timler, from South Africa

Death penalty does not sound nice or fair but when people commit bizzare atrocities like murder and armed robbery leading to death of some innocent people, one is left with no other option.
Kingsley Chimaobi Iheanacho, Kaohsiung, Taiwan

The death penalty serves the purpose of a deterrent. It should be brought back at least to ensure criminals think twice before taking another persons life. In South Africa at times I think that in some parts people must think that life is cheap and that they will escape justice when they murder someone, which they do [escape justice] a majority of the time.
John Cogan, South Africa

Point1: Justice is about making someone who has hurt you feel the pain you feel or felt when you got hurt. It is about punishing a wrong-doer. But no matter how much we want our enemy dead, his death will not relieve that pain or equal it. Be it by hanging or by any other means, death is not a punishment but an end. The foe is actually laid to rest. If he rests in peace depends on his creator. He will never suffer on earth the suffering he caused on earth. I therefore do not believe that any form of the death penalty can be declared a punishment. This kind of sentence should be banned in africa and abroad. Point 2: Someone who is not afraid or shows no compassion while killing his fellow human being most likely doesnot fear death. The death penalty as a deterrent is therefore utterly useless and deterrs no one.
Anon, Lagos

Justice is done when the punishment fits the crime.Is not that the truth? When a criminal resorts to violent crimes that leads to the death of innocent people,the death penalty should be the punishment-Tit for Tat
Amadu Barrie, New York City,USA




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The BBC may edit your comments and not all emails will be published. Your comments may be published on any BBC media worldwide.


SEE ALSO:
Ugandan prisoners fight hanging
19 Jan 05 |  Africa
Uganda denies state torture
29 Mar 04 |  Africa
Inside Kenya's 'worst' prison
04 Mar 03 |  Africa
Country profile: Uganda
10 Nov 04 |  Country profiles


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