(JollofNews) – Justice Hassan Babucarr Jallow, is back as the Chief Justice of the Republic of the Gambia. It was he who, as Attorney General and Minister of Justice back in the 1980s abolished the death penalty in The Gambia.
I am sure he is poised to do the same again, not least because the European Union will make abolition of the death penalty a condition of financial support to the new government. Abolition of the death penalty is also a matter of principle for many in Gambia’s new government, not least because of the disgraceful and atrocious way that Yahya Jammeh killed those Mile 2 prisoners in 2012.
But the question must be asked: in a poor developing country like the Gambia, can we afford not to have the death penalty?
The question was brought to my mind yesterday and today by two pieces of news, one from Guinea when I saw a video of people killing three robbers who were forcefully taken from police custody by the vengeful crowd; and here in London when a man, who had already served 11 years for a previous murder, was sent to jail today for 15 years – for a second murder of a 21-year old young father.
The initial impetus for the abolition of the death penalty was the argument that the conviction for murder may be arrived at wrongly (I think the last person to be hanged in UK has been pardoned because his innocence has been proved posthumously).
The second argument against the death penalty is a simple moral one: the Bible says “thou shall not kill” and some argue that this applies to the state itself too.
The third argument is that “the death penalty is counter-productive” – look at USA where the one Western country with the death penalty also has the highest homicide rate.
And finally, the fourth argument against the death penalty is that even the worst of people can be rehabilitated to lead a useful life and contribute to society. There was a famous murderer in Scotland whom I met many years ago at his Project working with youth offenders. He had married the daughter of a “Lord”, a doctor and prison psychologist who had fallen in love with this murderer and did much to give him a new lease of life.
You can read the full article here.