An important event on the occasion of the “Cities for Life - Against the Death Penalty” International Day was held on November 6th at the Kenya School of Law in Nairobi. It was organised by the Community of Sant’Egidio and had the support of the Swiss Embassy in Kenya.
During that event an announcement was made that all death penalty sentences in Kenya –over 2700– were commuted into life-time sentences.
The Swiss ambassador in Kenya, Ralf Hoeckner, opened the conference by recalling the commitment of his country in this struggle. He also invited the Kenyan Government to vote for the acceptation of the Second Optional Protocol at the UN voting, thus favouring the moratorium on the death penalty.
More than 350 young students from Nairobi and other cities attended the conference.
Andrea Trentini, member of the Community of Sant’Egidio, underlined the importance of humanizing society both at the personal and the collective levels, beyond politics. Former Minister of Justice and member of the constituent assembly Martha Karua explained why members of the constituent assembly lacked the courage to abolish the death penalty but also where new tools to fight this battle can be found. MP Agostinho Neto, founder of the Human Rights Commission, spoke about the legislative procedure in place, and Harriette Chaggai, member of governing council of the Law Society of Kenya, highlighted the moral and legal reasons to oppose the death penalty.
A great amount of questions asked by the audience showed the interest aroused by the topic. Both the conference and the debate were chaired by Francis Waithaka, representative of the Community of Sant’Egidio in Kenya.
Diplomatic representatives from Italy and Malawi, as well as prison activists attended the event.