Capital punishment in Kenya

This author has on more than one occasion argued against the death penalty, arguing as others more eloquent and read than I have, that the death of one innocent person outweighs all the benefits to society achieved through the death penalty. There are many places in the world where the death penalty is still in the statute books. There are occasions I have been almost persuaded that having the death penalty is good so there is a way to deal with politicians and the corporate types who collapse banks with people’s savings and the like. I believe, however, that an active volcano would do just fine for this group of miscreants.

But I digress. Capital punishment was introduced in Kenya by the Brits (remember they came to civilize the Africans: sarc) in 1893. While it’s use was not so prevalent in the early days of the colonial state, it got to a crescendo during the emergency years and from what I have read, many Africans were hanged on very flimsy grounds, rules of evidence were swept aside and the conduct of the cases were such that the accused in many cases were not represented. In short, there was miscarriage of justice in the interests of the crown.

It appears also that its application was racially motivated or biased, if the comments of the District Commissioner for Nyeri is to be believed. In 1921, the DC is reported as having said

sometimes i wonder whether in this country, capital punishment is not inflicted on natives more often than is necessary to attain the ends of justice. (Hynd, 2012).

In my conclusion, my other argument for abolishing capital punishment in Kenya is because it is a colonial relic instituted not so much for the interests of justice but law and order.


Hynd S (2012) Toward a History of Violence in Colonial Kenya. The International Journal of African Historical Studies, 45 1 pp 88-101

on the death penalty

Mick asked me to comment on this post. I hope he will not mind me doing it here.

Mick says prison these days is not punishment. In his own words

As soon as I walked in I could feel the tight suffocating atmosphere. I could instantly tell suffering had took place here for any crimes.  The rooms were small and some with no windows. The inmates had to work hard just for their breakfast.

prisons should be made in this way and this reminds me of Jean Valjean in Les Miserables. I sympathized with him, hated him and then loved him. Did prison make him a better person or a worse person? How did society treat him?

Mick tells us

They should be wiped out and took out of life so we don’t have to care for them. This will free up space in prisons with people of lesser crimes.

and

If someone had murdered someone close to me I don’t see jail as justice not in the modern day.

I hope he will be willing to kill the perpetrator himself and not defer the punishment to the government. I want him to choke the murderer to death. Or stone him to death or maybe burn him at the stake and then write about how he feels about it. No lethal injection or firing squad. Him and the offender.

He makes allowance, wait for it

I understand rapists and thieves etc should be given second chances etc but murderers especially cold brutal murderers should be put to sleep.

I am confused. I thought he was all out for execution for criminals. Why does he give rapists a second chance but not murderers?

I would love Mick to tell me his views on war.

I do not support capital punishment.

I don’t know what I would do were I in a situation where I was face to face with a person who had murdered one of my family members or friends. If, for example, they had killed them with a knife and they court told me I can kill him too but with a knife, would I do it? I think not.

Is capital punishment preferred because it is the government doing the killing on our behalf or would we still want it if we were to do the killing ourselves? What does it make of us?