21 February 2013

Tanzania: Dar es Salaam Hailed Over Death Penalty Stance

THE government has been hailed for its reluctance to implement the death penalty despite it being a statutory law in the country.

A British politician and the Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords, Mr Navnit Dholakia, said: "I am happy to learn that though the death penalty is statutory here, it has not been implemented since 1994. This is commendable and appears to be a nice move and a sign of democratic maturity."

Lord Dholakia, who is on a tour campaigning against capital punishment, was born in 1937 in the then Tanganyika in Tabora. His Indian father was an employee of the Tanganyika Railways. He got his early education in Tanganyika before moving to the United Kingdom.

"I feel great to be here in Tanzania after all these years and very much committed in working towards less dependence in capital punishment," he said. Lord Dholakia, who arrived in the country yesterday for a one-day tour met some government officials and activists to discuss the matter in question.

"I have come to learn what is happening in this part of the world and I am optimistic that there are efforts going on in the country. I am not here to dictate on what should be done because this is in the hands of the people to decide," he said.

He added that capital punishment was not an answer to offences such as murder, treason or corruption, pointing out that there are many civilized countries in the world that do not have death penalty as a statutory. There is a global debate whether governments should outlaw or retain the death penalty.

Those opposed to it say there is no evidence that capital punishment has succeeded to deter major crimes, including murder. In Tanzania, murder and high treason are the only offences punishable by death. Although there have been calls from human rights organizations for scrapping the penalty, the government has remained reluctant to outlaw it.

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