death penaltyAfrica is gradually abandoning capital punishment and the death penalty and the reason is quite simple -- Capital punishment is barbaric and quite unfair in most cases. The Republic of Benin officially abolished the death penalty in 2016. The Republic of Madagascar and Congo abolished the death penalty in 2015. 5 years earlier (in 2010), Gabon also abolished the death penalty for all crimes. Not just that, in 2009, both the Togolese Republic and Burundi officially abolished the death penalty for all crimes. Ivory Coast took the giant step in the year 2000 and officially abolished capital punishment for all crimes. Senegal followed Ivory Coast in 2004 and 3 years later, Rwanda followed suit, officially banning capital punishment and the death penalty for all crimes. Although many African countries have not officially abolished the death penalty, many have carried out no executions in the past 10 years or so.

Officially, only 16 countries (including Egypt, Nigeria, Somalia, Libya and Sudan) have and maintain the death penalty in both law and practice. In fact, in 2016, Egypt alone carried out over 44 executions followed by Somalia with about 14 executions. Both Nigeria and Sudan carried out 3 executions each in 2016 while Botswana executed 1 person. 29 countries out of the 54 UN member countries in Africa have officially abolished the death penalty for all crimes. Although 18 member countries permit the use of capital punishment for ordinary crimes, none of the 18 has carried out executions in the past 10 years or so and many are believed to have some policies in place of capital punishment.

In fact, both Angola and Cape Verde have had no executions since 1975. Also, the last time Burkina Faso executed someone was in 1988 (by firing squad for treason). Djibouti has had no executions since independence in 1977. Ivory Coast has had no executions since 1960. Mali has had no executions since 1980. The Togolese Republic has carried out no executions since 1978 and officially abolished capital punishment for all crimes in 2009. The Republic of Senegal has carried out no executions since 1967 and officially abolished death penalty for all crimes in 2004. The last execution by the South African government was on 14 November 1989. South Africa officially abolished capital punishment and the death penalty for all crimes in 1995. Although not officially banned, Swaziland has carried out no executions since 1983. Zambia has carried out no executions since 1997. Both Zimbabwe and Uganda have carried out no executions since 2005. The last time Ghana executed someone was in 1993. Eritrea has had no executions since 1993. The Republic of Kenya has had no executions since 1987. Mozambique has had no executions since 1986 and officially abolished capital punishment in 1990. I can go on and on. So as you can see, Africa (with the exception of Egypt and a few others) is gradually abandoning capital punishment and the death penalty for good.

It may surprise you to know however that, America the most industrialized country on earth, executed not less than 20 people in 2016. China executed thousands. Countries like Iran and Saudi Arabia executed hundreds if not thousands.This does sound quite barbaric and insane but the question is; who are we to judge? It is absolutely true that sometimes, some crimes deserve worse than capital punishment (Think about serial killers and rapists). However, since we are not cats with 9 lives, we can never fully pay for some crimes we commit.  In other words, it is only fair for one to at least partially pay for his or her crimes with the “one” life we all have. The point I am trying to make here is that, capital punishment and the death penalty make perfect sense in most cases. The “barbaric” nature of capital punishment in some situations seems to revolve much around the “judgement” and the “sentencing” than it does around the execution itself. Why? Because some crimes and some criminals deserve even worse punishments than the death penalty can offer. On the other hand however, we are humans and humans are full of errors. We can be wrong even when we feel 100% certain in our hearts that we are right. There is no doubt many innocent people are in jail today for crimes they know nothing about and to “accidentally” put an innocent man to death in this modern age and time, is something beyond barbaric and that is why the death penalty should be abolished for good. Also, if life is that precious to us then does it make much sense to give some selected few the legal rights to take another man’s life?