Botswana justifies death penalty after hanging suspected murderer

Botswana president Ian Khama

Botswana’s president Ian Khama has justified death penalty a month after hanging a 28-year-old suspected murderer who is accused of killing his girlfriend and her three-year-old son in 2010.

Khama told heads of diplomatic missions accredited to Gaborone that it is Botswana’s sovereign right to maintain the position that the death penalty is a criminal justice issue.

“It is important to note that death penalty is not imposed arbitrarily in Botswana. In short, the application of the death penalty follows a thorough and exhaustive legal process that meets the basic standards of a fair trial, and the penalty is imposed for the most serious crimes as understood under international law,” President Khama said.

He added that the Botswana government does not intend to either abolish the death penalty or impose a moratorium on its application.

This follows requests by the international community and human rights bodies demanding that Botswana abolishes the practice.

The hanging of Joseph Poni Tselayarona is the first execution in three years in Botswana, the only southern African nation holding on to the death penalty.

Only about 20 countries in Africa have abolished the death penalty with Egypt, Libya, Nigeria, Somalia and Sudan still practising executions.

Some East African countries have not banned executions including Tanzania whose president John Magufuli stated last year that he cannot assent to an execution despite the death penalty being legal.

Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni said last month that he plans to enforce the death penalty which has not been sanctioned in the country in the past 13 years. His reason was that people are taking his “leniency as a Christian” to get away with crimes.

Gambian President Adama Barrow on Sunday announced the suspension of the death penalty in his country.

Capital punishment is on the decline across Africa and according to Amnesty International, African governments have executed 22 people in 2016, lower than the 43 executions in 2016.

This article by Ismail Akwei was first published on

Published by Ismail Akwei

Ismail Akwei is an international journalist, digital media and communications professional, editor, writer, arts, culture and tourism advocate, human rights activist, pan-Africanist, tech enthusiast and history buff. He has worked with multinational media companies across Africa and has over a decade’s experience in journalism.

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