29 July, 2015
Mandatory Death Penalty
Oxford Human Rights Hub has published an article by barrister Joseph Middleton - The Mandatory Death Penalty and Narratives of the Common Law.
"An argument has evolved over decades, in India, the US, the Commonwealth Caribbean and most recently in Africa, that imposing the ultimate and irreversible penalty of death, without considering the particular circumstances of the offence and the offender, and without allowing any possibility for mitigation, is unconstitutional. It amounts to cruel and inhuman punishment and it violates the right to a fair trial, including the right to a fair sentence. It also violates the separation of powers, because by denying the courts any discretion on sentence, it deprives them of an essential judicial function, the imposition of an appropriate sentence for each offence."
The United Kingdom
had a mandatory death penalty for murder up to the Murder (Abolition of Death Penalty) Act 1965. A mandatory sentence of life imprisonment must now be imposed and the judiciary set the minimum period to be served in prison before release may be considered. The Criminal Justice Act 2003 contains provisions dealing with this minimum term. Exceptionally, a "whole life" term may be imposed (Law and Lawyers 3rd February 2015). Arguments persist as to whether the mandatory life imprisonment should also be abolished and simply permit the judiciary to impose a fixed term or life imprisonment appropriate to the facts of the case. However, that has not proved to be politically acceptable.
Death Penalty Project
A challenge to the Mandatory Death Penalty has been heard by the Supreme Court of Kenya.
Some of the background to the Kenyan situation is Kenyans Abroad