167 Ugandan death row inmates saved from gallows
According to the Ugandan newspaper The Daily Monitor, 167 death row inmates have seen their sentence commuted to life in prison this year.
Their reprieve is the consequence of a January Supreme Court decision according to which it is unconstitutional to keep a person on death row for more than three years. The court argued that any longer term would represent an additional, illegal punishment.
“One hundred and fifty inmates qualified by the time the court order was made but as time goes by, over 10 more have qualified. The number is now 167,” Ugandan prisons spokesman Frank Baine told the Monitor on September 13.
The Supreme Court ruling resulted from legal action taken by hundreds of death row inmates over more than five years with support from local human rights lawyers, the British-based NGO Death Penalty Project and World Coalition member organization FHRI.
While activists had succeeded in having long periods on death row recognized as unconstitutional, the court had dismissed their argument that the death penalty itself was a violation of constitutional rights.
Other countries in the region, most recently Kenya, have been accepting the fact that spending more than three years on death row is an inhuman punishment and should be outlawed.