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The Death Penalty in Africa

ARAN - Access to Research at NUI Galway

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dc.contributor.advisor Schabas, William A.
dc.contributor.author Karimunda, Muyoboke
dc.date.accessioned 2011-10-18T15:29:56Z
dc.date.issued 2011-09-29
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/10379/2228
dc.description.abstract This study begins by addressing the issue of the death penalty in Africa prior to foreign legal influences. An Africanist view exhorts retentionist countries to repeal the death penalty simply because it is an imperialist legacy. The argument opposes those who contend that abolition is un-African. Retentionists retort that the death penalty is rooted in the culture and religion of Africans and abolitionist arguments are dismissed with charges of neo-colonialism. Establishing the deliberate exclusion of the death penalty in traditional Africa goes beyond abolition. It also implies that although painted as repugnant, primitive and savage, indigenous laws were imbued with more human values than Asian and European laws which influenced, accommodated and later suppressed them. This study has found no definitive conclusion to this conundrum. In most organized states the death penalty was imposed for several offences. In other states, some of them strongly centralized as well and among numerous Bantu tribes, homicides were redressed by compensation. Tribes with no death penalty were compelled by catechist preaching and often by sword to convert to foreign religions that had a passion for retaliation. Later African people were barricaded inside arbitrary boundaries established by the colonizer who applied the death penalty without distinction to those who were used to it and those who had rejected it due to its outrageous effects. Whether provided for by foreign religious or secular laws, the death penalty served and continues to serve the same purpose, political domination. All African independent leaders retained the death penalty primarily as a response to any challenge to their authority. In other words, they maintained the status quo. Thus, instead of being a neo-colonial dictate, abolition is one of the steps towards a complete political independence. Politicians have used the death penalty in order to secure their insolvent regimes. Abolition has often corresponded to moments of liberation from tyrannical regimes. Therefore, the more Africans embrace democracy and dispose of their predators, the faster the movement of abolition will be. Resistance to abolitionist calls is already crumbling and it is anticipated that the Arab awakening will increase chances of abolition in African Islamic states. That alone would marginalize remaining retentionist countries. en_US
dc.subject Capital punishment en_US
dc.subject Death penalty en_US
dc.subject Africa en_US
dc.subject Colonisation en_US
dc.subject Indigenous law en_US
dc.subject Execution en_US
dc.title The Death Penalty in Africa en_US
dc.type Thesis en_US
dc.contributor.funder Centre for International Legal Cooperation en_US
dc.local.note The death penalty is still retained in 14 African countries. Retentionist states claim that abolition is un-African and tend to hold that the death penalty is rooted in African customs and cultures. Abolitionist states have opposed this view on the grounds that capital punishment is a colonial legacy. In the eve of independence, African independent countries that were death penalty free introduced it and those which had it maintained the status quo. This thesis has established that capital punishment existed under some indigenous African laws and excluded in others. Foreign religions and laws extended its scope where it existed and introduced it to people who did not have it. Independent Africa retained it for political reason exactly like the British and French used it to quell political demands. Abolition is therefore a step towards complete political indipendence in Africa. en_US
dc.description.embargo 2016-01-01
dc.local.final Yes en_US

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