Tayebwa wants death penalty repealed

Thomas Tayebwa is the deputy speaker of Parliament of Uganda (PHOTO/Courtesy).

The Deputy Speaker of Parliament Thomas Tayewa has expressed the need to abolish the death penalty.

His suggestion comes r two days after the Ghanaian Parliament passed a motion abolishing the death penalty.

Out of 54 countries in Africa, 17 have abolished the death penalty for all crimes and 22 are abolitionist in practice.

Speaking at the opening of a four-day convention for Advocates from several English-speaking African countries at Imperial Resort Hotel – Entebbe, Tayewa said he was expressing a personal opinion on issues he felt so passionate about.

He was Guest of Honor at a function organized by Uganda Christian Lawyers’ Fraternity (UCLF), Advocates Africa (AF), and Advocates International (AI).

“It is high time we sat down and reviewed the issue of the death penalty.  I believe in the sanctity of life and in any case how many convicts have been hanged in the last so many years?” Tayewa mused.

Uganda last carried out legally sanctioned executions in 2001, over two decades ago, and today courts are hesitant to mete out the sentence, opting for life imprisonment to hardcore criminals.

“The other issue I feel passionate about is religious freedom.  I believe in religious freedom but when you come to think about events like the KIbwetere and Chakahola cult in Kenya where thousands of innocent lives were lost, then you can see the state has to come in to do close monitoring. I am saying monitoring but not control to protect society.”

Kibwetere was an offshoot of the Catholic Church who through his Movement for the Ten Commandments of God killed thousands in Central and Western Uganda. He made his victims sell off their belonging and surrender proceeds to him while prophesying the end of the world.  Similar cult killings have been this year unearthed in Kenya where mass graves have been among other practices making followers fast to death.

Tayebwa who said he was always asking God to help him know his mission in life, said he was not apologetic in a situation where he has been globally hated and liked in equal measure owing to his contribution and support in the passing of the Anti-homosexuality Bill deemed draconian by the West.

“I don’t have any apologies for that.  It is bad for a leader to always want to play it safe,” he said.

Tayebwa said lawyers as a fraternity had not come out strong on many issues affecting society, including those requiring the protection of children and the family.

Calling for the protection of the judiciary from political influences, Tayebwa commended the Attorney General for the support exhibited to the department and promised more support from Parliament whenever there was a need.

Attorney General Kiwanuka Kiryowa called for consistency and steadfastness by Christian lawyers in upholding the values of the Christian faith.  This he said included not hiding one’s faith, humility, mentoring others, not withholding good from society, and being a servant to one’s clients.

He said Christian lawyers should draw their inspiration from Jesus Christ to navigate the “volatile and ambiguous world’’ of misappropriating clients’ recovered funds, offering them substandard services because they are poor, and failing to make time for them, all vices he said are addressed in the Holy Bible.  The Christian lawyer, he said should make a difference.

The Deputy Inspector General of Government, Anne Muhairwe said the volatile world in which legal practitioners lived required the Christian Practitioners to be equipped with skills and values to navigate vices.

UCLF patron and Supreme Court Judge, Justice Michael Chibita stressed that law was such an important tool in society to be treated merely as an avenue for making money.

Bernard Oundo, the President of Uganda Law Society called for close unity among African Advocates, including forming law firms that served across national borders.

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