KENYA: RUTO REDUCES SENTENCES FOR ALL DEATH ROW CONVICTS
|Kenyan President William Ruto
July 24, 2023:
President William Ruto on July 21, 2023 reduced the death sentence for all capital offenders to a life sentence. (Source: Kenyans, 22/07/2023; Mwakilishi, 22/07/2022)
In a Gazette notice published by Attorney General Justin Muturi, Ruto issued the directive following recommendations by the Advisory Committee on the Power of Mercy.
Muturi also indicated that the directive would apply to all convicts sentenced to death as of November 21, 2022.
"It is notified for the general information of the public that in the exercise of the powers conferred by Article 133 of the Constitution of Kenya and section 23 (1) of the Power of Mercy Act, 2011, the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Defence Forces of the Republic of Kenya, commuted the death sentence imposed on every capital offender as at November 21, 2022, to a life sentence," read the notice in part.
In addition, the President demonstrated an act of clemency by granting pardons to 5,861 convicts who were serving minor sentences.
This group included 2,944 individuals who had been sentenced to jail terms of six months or less. The decision to pardon these individuals was based on their exhibited good conduct during their time of sentencing.
"The President upon the recommendation of the Advisory Committee on the Power of Mercy, remitted the unexpired portion of the respective sentences of 2917 long-term offenders who have sentence balances of six months and below to serve," the notice read in part.
Ruto's directive was in line with Article 133 of the 2010 Constitution, which also gives the Head of State powers to grant a free or conditional pardon to a person convicted of an offence.
About 600 prisoners are currently on death row in Kenya, according to a report by the Death Penalty Project.
Kenya last effected the death sentence in 1987 when Hezekiah Ochuka was hanged after being charged with treason over the 1982 coup attempt.
In 2017, the Supreme Court, while ruling in a case filed by Francis Muruatetu, outlawed the death sentence declaring it unconstitutional.
The apex court determined that the punishment was out of sync with the 2010 Constitution which guarantees the right to life.