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Kenya: why has the country not abolished the death penalty?

In recent months two African states have announced their intentions to abolish the death penalty Zambia and the Central African Republic.

In all, 22 member countries of the African Union (AU) have abolished the death penalty for all crimes, and one for ordinary crimes. In 2021, only four countries in the AU carried out executions: Botswana, Egypt, Somalia and South Sudan.

Seventeen African countries are considered “de facto abolitionist” states, meaning that they have not carried out an execution in 10 years. These include Kenya, which retains the death penalty by hanging – a British colonial relic. This sentence can be handed down for the crimes of murder, other offences resulting in death, robbery not resulting in death and treason. Kenya hasn’t carried out an execution since 1987, when Hezekiah Ochuka and Pancras Oteyo Okumu were executed for their role in the failed attempt to overthrow President Daniel arap Moi in 1982.

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