As a Somali man stabs to death his father's killer in a public execution and Kenyan women call for the castration of rapists, will justice be done if we take an eye for an eye?
The public execution in Mogadishu was ordered by an Islamic court. Under Sharia law those who commit murder are punishable by death.
Residents in the nearby area say they have noticed a drop in robberies, murder and general lawlessness since Sharia law was introduced.
New proposals to combat sexual offences in Kenya no longer include a provision to castrate rapists but many female activists throughout Africa still argue that castration is the only effective way to deter and punish those who rape.
Is justice more effective when the punishment mirrors the crime? Do you think it is fair to take an eye for an eye? Tell us what happens in your traditional courts or other systems of justice? What works where you are?
This debate is now closed. Thank you for your comments.
In most American states the death sentence still stands and it is so because it is American law. So I don't see anything wrong with Somalian laws if they apply the death sentence. The death penalty is the death sentence anywhere.
Kabir Ahmed Andidi, Kaduna, Nigeria
I don't believe in "an eye for an eye" . It might sound fair, when the culprit is guilty. Imagine if the culprit is not guilty, his friends and family might look for a way to revenge, justifying that the latter was murdered. There we see a vicious circle of revenge which might even become a civil war!!
John Mutahi, Nairobi, Kenya
It is better to forgive than to carry out revenge, but it is also better to carry out an eye-for-an-eye than to take revenge on an entire family or clan. As I understand it, an eye-for-an-eye was implemented to set limits on revenge. As for those who speak of those who are "unevolved", they are self-righteous judges far from the reality of Somalia.
Jim Banks, Cambridge, MA, USA
Please, the issue is not a matter under our judgement, its Allah's Sharia.
Eye for an eye does not mean as most of the people think. If the loss of part of your body, by the cause of another, is accidental (not intentional), then you are not subject to the ruling. But intentional killing is worthy of the reward of eye for an eye.
Mohamed Yusuf, Hargeisa, Somaliland
Sharia again! Why do we waste our breathe when we are facing a fringe who cannot think for themselves, but swallow hook line and sinker obsolete religious dogmas that have nothing to contribute to the betterment of humanity. When shall we wake-up from our slumber?
Fodei M. Conteh, Cyprus & Sierra Leone
Could someone really explain why the man murdered the boys father over his education?
Yiyo Vivo, UK
Like many others, I believe it is a way to reduce crime.
Yemti Harry Ndienla, Buea, Cameroon
Forgiveness is the key to any kind of healing process.
Placide Matsiaba, Port-Gentil, Gabon
The Islamic rules are clear cut. If you kill someone and the relatives of that person decide to kill you, in Islamic law, no one can stop this, but it is better not to allow children and women to watch public punishments.
Liban A. Hussein, Islamabad, Pakistan
Yes and No. Yes, because there are societies who understand the eye-for-an-eye law only and, No, for the civilized society. It depends on where it is happening.
Habeal Seyoum, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
By saying that an "Eye for an eye makes the whole world blind", although a good point, it is only half thought out. Without taking back that eye, only the side of justice/good will be blind. The side of evil will then still have its eyes and freely attack its weakened victim.
Martin, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA
The Somali teenage example has not solved any problems for the society. This was an episode of two "murders".
Maxwell Ukpebor, Ikoyi, Lagos
I can understand why the boy has done this, because I would have done it if I was in his shoes. He obviously wanted revenge and, when you are angry, you do not think about what you are doing.
Rhys Fussell, Ashford, Kent, UK
This is an absolutely abhorrent case of medieval justice in the 21st century, a classic case of the law of the jungle prevailing in a lawless and failed state.
Charles Osunwoke, London, UK
The situation in Somalia has now came to an eye and an eye. It seems the traditional method of paying blood money to the victims has not been sufficient deterrent for killers to stop killing. In fact, they always tell their victims "I will kill you and the portion of the blood money that my family will pay is so little that I will not regret it". So it has become easy for the killers to kill with out remorse. I think Somalis have to come with a solution, so that we don't see revenge killings.
Abdirashid A Jama, Rosemount, Minnesota, USA
I have read the Quaran and I am still at a loss as to where exactly that text is. Although, I must say it is disappointing that seeking justice in Africa is almost impossible, unless you have the money and resources, plus know people in higher places, yet an eye for an eye is too extreme.
Abubakar Ibrahim, Accra, Ghana
If killing is wrong, why then do we kill the killer?
Godwin Ahossey, Ghana
First of all, one has to draw a line on what should be punishable under the eye for an eye principle. I suggest any crimes against children, the elderly and the vulnerable. Secondly, we would have to guarantee that someone is only punished, if there is absolute proof they did commit the crime. Getting a boy to avenge his father is wrong in principle, but I believe he is going to be much better as an avenger, than growing to be a man that sees his father's killer released after 20-30 years in prison as it happens very often in Europe. People say revenge will not bring anyone back from the tomb, but neither will lax justice.
L Rojas, Brazil/UK
Eye for an Eye is justice. But if you forgive, it is divine. It is the choice of the victim.
Saeeda Sayed, Mississauga, Ontario Canada
How many times does a thief end up in jail? More than twice. How many murderers kill? Only once, if it's an eye for a eye.
Daniel Tshimuanga, Kinshasa, Congo
No, I don't think that is justice. If someone does something and you give them a severe punishment like castration, it is termed revenge. Since you did it to pay him back for what he has done. But when the individual is jailed, then you are punishing him, so that with time he might change from his evil ways and learn some lesson. The only unfortunate part is that most lawless people don't change their evil ways or repent their deeds.
Johnny Abdallah, Accra, Ghana
This is exactly the same crime just disguised as justice.
Mbutu, formerly Somalia
I think that is fair to execute those who deserve it, but why give killers the easy option? Why not let them rot in prison to be in the same pain and distress that the victims' family are in.
Victoria Greenaway, Devon, England
The raw anger that accompanies acts of instant justice is one you have to see to appreciate. It's not only sickening to watch or hear of, but one wonders how many times the innocent are subject to blind justice. I just want to throw light on the mob lynching that takes place in African cities in broad daylight. It speaks volumes about the horrific streak of violence hidden just beneath the surface of society.
Walid, Accra, Ghana
Isn't justice all about that? Equal treatment? The only danger is where someone is wrongly convicted.
Musyoki Kimanthi, Nairobi, Kenya
A song in my dialect translates that "If you kill my father and I do not die early, I will kill you in return". You may agree that an eye-for-an-eye comes naturally to man, irrespective of religion or social milieu. The aggrieved would feel justice has been done, if he can somehow inflict the same punishment on the offender. However more humane societies now consider the application of the most extreme form of this natural instinct - capital punishment - to be too harsh, barbaric and unfit for modern society. I do believe, though, that punishment should fit the crime. Look at the case, for instance, of a man who stole the pension packages of an entire hotel workforce and went to jail for only six months.
Abdulai Musa, Lagos, Nigeria
I can't support rapists, but the bill proposed by one our MPs has loopholes in it. In an African way, making sexual advances is a man's work. If that bill is passed without reviewing it, all Kenyan men will be sent to jail. A rapist should be given a life sentence to ensure justice is practised to the victim. But castration is like a brutal murder.
Rono Peter, Nairobi, Kenya
A song in my dialect translates that "If you kill my father and I do not die early, I will kill you in return". You'd agree that an eye-for-an-eye comes naturally to man irrespective of religion or social milieu. The aggrieved would feel justice has been done if he can somehow inflict the same punishment on the offender.
"An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind" - said Mohandas Ghandi. QED.
David Wilson, St. John's, Newfoundland
I do agree, however, that this natural instinct has been tempered by liberal tendencies: more humane societies now consider the application of its most extreme measures - capital punishment - to be too harsh, barbaric, and unfit for a modern society; that a society's finer interests are not served by the use of cruel punishments by the state for offences committed by one member in revenge against the other.
There is too much pussyfooting around with justice
J.Hart, Townsville, USA
I do believe, though, that the punishment should fit the crime. Where this is not so, as in the case, for instance, of a man who stole the pension package of an entire hotel workforce and went to jail for only six months, it leaves the victim(s) unsatisfied and it could linger.
Abdulai Musa, Lagos, Nigeria
In my opinion, the Somali teenager and the father's killer both have "blood-stained hands". They have both done the same thing.
Ashi, Castanheira, Brazil
Only Mercy is a solution for all unjust action by anybody including governments. We are in the New Testament not the Old Testament of the bible, in which 'eye for an eye' is stated.
Samuel Asfaw, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
This barbaric act has nothing to do with teaching of Islam.
Jeenihaar, Galkacayo, Somalia
The question is not whether it is right or wrong for the boy to carry out the court ruling. The question is does the court have the authority to carry out the sentence. If the court has the right under that country's law, then the boy has done the right thing. The world needs this kind of law to reduce crime rates that are skyrocketing.
Ty, Washington DC, USA
How is violence a reasonable solution to violence?
Yasmine, NYC, USA
We have a system in Britain, where few rapists ever get to face trial. If they do they aren't usually convicted. If they are convicted they get a light sentence, and even those that are sentenced never fully serve it. Is that really better than legal systems, that are made out to be barbaric, but which put the rights and fears of the victim before that of the criminal?
Keith Bridgeman, London, England
Eye for an eye is definitely the best option for the high level of rising crime in Africa.
Festus Chuma, Kampala, Uganda
Although it is not civilised and christian-like, I believe in jungle justice, especially for a country like mine. The system is messed up, as nothing really works back here.
Lizette Betanga, Yaounde, Cameroon
Here in Kenya you cannot punish a crime by a crime, unless in circumstances such as murder for self-defence. There are many new forms of crimes which will now need to be included in the law of the country, such as stiffer punishment for rapists.
Francis Ndegwa, Nairobi, Kenya
No, it's not justice. It's revenge.
Morgan, Hayward, CA U.S.A.
Anyone applying this justice today is taking the law into their hands and such an act should be condemned. In my traditional community there is a local judging committee called "kwifon", setup for murderers and disobedient fellows. The government is not categorically exercising real justice today, because of corruption.
Eric Mbumbouh, Bamenda, Cameroon
Eye for an eye seems to be a very effective way to control crime whether it is inhuman or not. Underdeveloped and developing countries have weak judicial systems and rampant corruption in police which makes eye for an eye the most effective way.
Ahmad Bilal, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
We often take more than an eye for an eye and, often, where we should take more we take nothing. It would be good to take an eye for an eye, instead of the whole body for an eye as is the world trend today.
Abdulhussain Haamid, Molndal, Sweden
They say tit for tat is a fair game. The Kenyan government in particular should rise up and protect its women against brutal rapes that have been happening in the country of late. If the government cannot take action, let the society decide.
Felix Nyangate, Texas, USA
People should not live under such agony in these modern days.
Pal Gatkuoth Deng, Lincoln, Nebraska, USA
Yes, I am strongly in favour of the death penalty for the worst crimes. Here in New Zealand, it costs NZ$52,000 a year to keep one murderer, rapist or child abuser in gaol. Why waste good money on these lowlifes? It is far better to put money into where it is needed - fixing up the health & education systems. A well-funded health system & a well-funded education system is the key to a country's development, not just those countries in Africa.
Aidan Work, Wellington, New Zealand.
It is wrong to even debate this issue. An eye for an eye does not help rather it escalates the problem. Try out forgiveness and readdressing the problem and you will definitely see forward moves and not just circling the same spot and waiting on the next eye to plug out.
Gregory Angaluki Sasita, Arlington, USA
What happened there where I was born and bred was absolutely shocking. I was close to fainting by the time I saw the pictures. I am not against Sharia law, but it was not done in a proper manner. Those courts in Mogadishu are based on clans. No, there is no justice in Mogadishu.
An eye for an eye is not justice in any way.
Peter Wawire, Chicago, USA
It seems to me that it is primitive blood-lust, only sustained by old-fashioned religions and used as an excuse not to evolve.
Martin Lundme, Copenhagen, Danmark
Such punishments act as a real deterrent and crime levels drop drastically as a result.
Rofiq, East London, UK
An eye for an eye was the law before the advent of Jesus Christ. Since then it is forgiveness and humility, no vengeance.
Anthony Okosun, Baltimore, USA
If for example a son threw a stone and it his father on the mouth, causing some teeth to fall out, would it be wise to pull out some of the son's teeth, so that he may not through stones in the future? I think the answer is NO.
Hyacinth Ndfion, Bamenda, Cameroon
We should learn to forgive and forget no matter the degree of pain we are going through.
Ayabang Justin, Buea, Cameroon
I do not know exactly how this execution has been agreed by both sides. However, it is fair to take an eye for eye. We, Muslims must accept the law of Allah, who created this world.
Said, Copenhagen, Denmark
An eye for an eye is a huge step backward to the Stone Age. This is an embarrassment to Somalis as well as to us Africans in general.
Andarge, KC, USA
I would be more pleased if Charles Taylor is sentenced to life imprisonment.
John Foreka, Lagos, Nigeria
As a black American, I find this practise in Africa very disgusting. Until Africans learn respect for the rule of law, the continent will always be at the bottom of the totem pole. This is unacceptable in the modern world.
Todd Kidd, United States
Justice should be served equally among all the people. What happened in Somalia now may be a lesson to other people who are eyeing to kill their fellow brothers. But, these Islamic courts should also capture the war lords and make them face execution too, as that will cause stability and peace in the country.
Mukhtar M Ibrahim, St.Paul, Minnesota, USA.
There is no justification for instance justice. There is a high possibility that the wrong person will get mobbed. It is however likely to continue as long as the police are ineffective in their punishment of culprits.
Demba Mbarodi, Banjul, Gambia
An eye for an eye does not necessarily reduce heinous crimes. For instance, execution of murderers has not resulted in lower murder rates in most countries. On the contrary, life imprisonment for serious crimes is a better punishment as culprits suffer throughout their lives. I think national and local governments in Africa should develop preventive measures to reduce crimes rather than concentrating on punishing law breakers. After all, in some countries the law seems 'more favourable' to the politically and economically influential as they normally receive lighter sentences for serious crimes, while the poor receive heavier punishment.
Sigismond Wilson, Sierra Leone/USA
It depends on which jurisdiction one is under. The people of the world should be subjected to the laws governing them.
Enock Maturwe, Nairobi, Kenya
I believe if you have killed someone you deserve to die instantly without any remorse. And probably that's a harsh judgement, but why do some groups of people believe taxpayer's money should be spent on stupid things that were done intentionally, without considering the fact that they'll put sorrow into the victim's family and communities? Bottom line is eye for an eye is the best option.
Kunle Olufowobi, USA
The way the execution took place is against Islam and what it teaches us.
Radical female activists would argue that the best effective way to deal with rapists is by castration, but I think the best way is by education.
Unisa Diz-Conteh, UK
My only concern is where does it stop? If a boy kills his father's murderer has he not committed the very same crime?
Ombuku, Wales, UK
Nah, nah, nah, an eye for an eye will never be the way forward. If we were to seek for proportionate punishment to fit crimes committed, the whole planet will be wiped. In traditional societies society's virtues and values were discussed and passed on to generations in social forums that apparently are at large these days.
Mayabi Daniel, Gaborone, Botswana
If you have never been robbed and tortured by an armed robber then you will not understand. In Cameroon if a thief is caught sorry, he will be lynched to death through what we call "jungle justice". People at times take the law into their hands because they don't trust the police
Aaron Anye, Cameroon/South Africa
It is good to forgive your adversaries. But if it involves the undue taking of another person's life then the culprit should also lose his or her life. Cases of this type of justice abound all over the world. Whether the culprit is beheaded or given lethal injection it is the same. An eye for an eye is justified if it involves undue taking of innocent life.
Okhiomah Abu, Mekelle, Ethiopia
An eye for an eye sounds cruel, but in my country Kenya it seems to be the only solution. Due to the high rate of corruption in the courts of law and within the police force, criminals always find their way back into the villages after being released under mysterious circumstances. Mob justice is the only way to get rid of rapists and killers. In fact what Kenya should do to combat sexual offences is to pass a law which will allow a rapist's male organ to be chopped off, so that they can live to see inside a court room.
Kisanya Vincent, Nairobi, Kenya
If murderers, adulterers, thieves, corrupt humans and the lot were to be put to death, I'm sure that half the world would be exterminated. Where I am, the law will look at what caused a person to commit a certain offence and then the law takes its course
Shuttie F.N.Libuta, Kitwe, Zambia
Under every nation's constitution, there is a punishment for every crime whether capital punishment in the U.S. or maximum life imprisonment in The Netherlands. An eye for an eye is too primitive. Justice can be upheld in other ways.
Comrade Sunny Ofehe, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Castration doesn't prevent rape. l don't think it can serve as punishment, but rapists should be put behind bars for a longer time.
Henry Blay, Takoradi, Ghana
Eye for an eye is a barbaric method of punishment and only adds to the problem of violence on an already troubled planet earth. I can only imagine how the youngster will seek to resolve future conflicts now that bloodshed is an acceptable option.
Jacob, Northampton, USA
An eye for an eye will make the whole world blind. Those who are offended should take counsel and be willing to forgive seventy times seven. While the perpetrators are rehabilitated and reintegrated into society as useful persons.
Julius Smith, Zwedru, Liberia
We should take an eye for an eye, an ear for an ear, a nose for a nose, equal for equal and it is stated in our Quran 5:45
Abdisamad, Minnesota, USA
It is right in Sharia law, but not in that barbaric way of attacking the person with a knife. It is supposed to be quick and less gruesome. Such rules are harsh, but it teaches people not to murder.
Eye for eye, especially in the Somali version, ain't justice. It may even lead to the breeding of new murderers. How does one expect a 16 year old boy to live a normal life after avenging his father's death in such a barbaric manner!
Willy Kisitu, Wroclaw, Poland
Basically, this is unacceptable savagery. Nothing else.
Pravin Shah, Mumbai, India
This is definitely a step in the right direction in order to bring peace and stability to a region that has been in complete chaos for almost two decades. This may seem harsh to people from outside cultures and religions, but here is the question. Is it more barbaric to punish murderers, or should rapists and murderers be allowed to continue their crimes? Shariah works because human beings haven't changed since the beginning of humanity. If people aren't deterred, they will commit the same heinous crimes today that they would thousands of years ago.
Abu Bakr Ibraxiim, Seattle, USA
What kind of society are we building by ordering kids to kill people at such a low age?!
Muhoza Chiza, Mwanza, Tanzania
I am a Muslim from Somalia. I don't agree with an eye for an eye. Anon
There is no doubt that if we use eye-for-an-eye then crimes will decrease dramatically.
Duop Chak, Colorado, USA
'An eye for an eye' only makes the whole world blind.
Grace Okeng, Brussels, Belgium
People should understand that actions have consequences. It is the duty of parents to teach kids. The problem is that we now spare the rod and spoil the child. We breed criminals in our homes who commit serious crimes in future. I support an eye for an eye. You reap what you sow.
Brighton Ncube, Los Angeles, USA
An eye for an eye is senseless. If we still had the Old Testament way of thinking, than the whole world would be eyeless and toothless.
Lillian, Los Angeles, CA, USA
There is no quick fix for that problem, but I think an eye for an eye will work. Just think about some looser going out there and raping your sisters and Mom. How do you feel about him? Lock him up for a while and let him do that again?...
Mesfin, Oakland, via Eritrea
The late Mahatma Ghandi rightly said the "an eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind." Allowing a sixteen year old boy to kill his late father's killer in Somalia is the worst criminal activity by a government that wants the civilized world to embrace it. The boy killed and so ends his own psychological growth. He will forever be haunted by what he did. Europeans knew quite well the consequences of blood thirsty governments, the reason why they abolished the death penalty.
Henry Williams, Clovis, California
Somalia has the right as a 'sovereign' nation to implement its laws, regardless of whether others do not like them, including me. Furthermore, it is important to distinguish between Sharia Law and tribal law. What we are seeing in Somalia is not Sharia law. Sharia courts cannot be established out of the blue. Somalia has little infrastructure and certainly does not have the ability to create just Sharia courts. These are tribal courts disguised under Islam.
Shahalom Rahman, London, United Kingdom
Let laws of the country or customary laws do the justice, not individualism.
Peter Tuach, Minnesota, USA
I think the Somali teenager will remain haunted by that forever, because at the end of the day he was fully influenced to do so. He is still a young person according to me. I think this act of eye-for-an-eye should fully be condemned. But at the end of the day, it all lies on a group's beliefs, so trying to convince them of your beliefs would be like forcing a donkey to drink water.
Pep Muthoni, UK London
I believe an eye for an eye is the only solution for justice. There is so much corruption these days and once a police officer is bribed, the case or file goes missing. As a result the culprits are seen back on the streets the next day. I would have loved if Sharia law was enforced in our country as well.
Wasn't it Gandhi who said " an eye for an eye will make the whole world blind"? I can't agree more. Retribution demeans humans, turning them into mere brutes with a thirst for vengeance. It also makes a mockery of religion (Islam Christianity etc) , which claims forgiveness as central tenet. In my opinion, the Somali teenager and the father's killer have both done the same thing.
Ashi, Castanheira, Brazil
Yes and no.Yes, in the sense that if it is a wilful crime please let the principle of eye for an eye apply. This helps to order the society and bring down the crime rate to the barest minimum. In fact it is the more effective deterrence. Compare a society where this principle is practised with the one where it is not practised. More so it helps to speed up justice. No, in the sense that if the offence is unintentional or menial other forms of justice could apply.
Obiechehie Ozioma Good, Umuahia, Nigeria
It seems to me that people seemed to be more careful in committing crimes in those old days of instant judgment than now. This is partly because if you stab somebody, for instance, and the person dies, you will be put to death the same way instantly. So the fear was there. But now, people have this notion that when they commit heinous crimes against their neighbours, the worst that can happen to them is for police to get them arrested. And what happens after? The police will take bribes and pronto, the man is back on the street.
Yakubu Afenoko Innocent, Lagos, Nigeria
Justice will be not be done if we take an eye for an eye. That was the law of the Old testament. There are other forms of punishments abound out there. Depending on the offence, some offenders could be rehabilitated while others could be locked up for good. We should learn to forgive those who have done us wrong and leave vengeance to God.
Omorodion Osula, Boston, USA
I don't think an eye for an eye is the way forward. But most governments and justice systems are shielding criminals, leaving the people with no choice but to take law into their own hands. Some men in Kenya object to rapists being castrated. Are they potential rapists, or shall we wait till their sisters and mothers and daughters have been raped for them to change their minds? We have tried to put our faith in our governments and they have failed us. In the traditional African society rape was hardly an issue because justice prevailed, in whatever form
No, that cannot be right! It's barbaric and I don't think the Qur'an teach us barbarism.
Karani, Helsinki, Finland