Living with a Death Sentence in Kenya: Prisoners’ Experiences of Crime, Punishment and Death Row

By Carolyn Hoyle and Lucrezia Rizzelli, on 24 January 2023

The Death Penalty Project’s latest report provides a comprehensive analysis of the lives of prisoners on death row in Kenya. It focuses on prisoners’ socio-economic backgrounds and profiles, their pathways to, and motivation for, offending, as well as their experiences of the criminal justice process and of imprisonment. It complements our previous research, a two-part study of attitudes towards the death penalty in Kenya, The Death Penalty in Kenya: A Punishment that has Died Out in Practice.
While 120 countries around the world have now abolished the death penalty, including 25 in Africa, Kenya is one of 22 African nations that continues to retain the death penalty in law, albeit it has not carried out any executions for more than three decades. As such, Kenya is classified as ‘abolitionist de facto’, the United Nations term for a country that has not carried out an execution for at least 10 years. Yet, while state-sanctioned executions no longer occur, hundreds of people are currently living under sentence of death and others are convicted and sentenced to death each year. As long as the death penalty is retained in law, there remains a risk that executions might resume if there is political change. Moreover, the plight and turmoil of those languishing on death row – consistently the poorest and most vulnerable – cannot be ignored. They are disproportionately sentenced to death and suffer the harshest punishments and treatment.

  • Document type Book
  • Countries list Kenya