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Amnesty accuses Botswana’s President Masisi of executions

President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s first year in office has been characterized by a steep rise in executions, with four people put to death since his inauguration, Amnesty International said.

Botswana’s President Masisi’s first year in office marred by executions www.theafricanstand.com
Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi

(The African Stand) — At least four people have been hanged in Botswana since President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s inauguration a year ago, human rights group Amnesty International said.

“The alarming rise in executions under President Mokgweetsi Masisi has cast a chilling shadow over his presidency. Since President Masisi was sworn into office a year ago, four people have been hanged, taking away their right to life,” Amnesty International’s director for east and southern Africa Deprose Muchena said in a statement on Friday.

“By continuing to sign execution warrants, President Masisi is showing a disregard for the right to life and bucking the regional and global trend against the ultimate cruel and inhumane punishment.”

Masisi was sworn in as Botswana’s fifth democratic leader on November 1, 2019, at the University of Botswana Indoor Sports Arena.

Amnesty International said Botswana recorded its first execution under Masisi in December 2019, barely a month after he came to office, with the hanging of Mooketsi Kgosibodiba, who had been on death row since 2017.

In February 2020, Mmika Michael Mpe was hanged, and Moabi Seabelo Mabiletsa and Matshidiso Tshid Boikanyo were hanged in March, he said.

All four had been convicted of murder.

South African woman Mariette Bosch was the first white woman executed in Botswana in 2001. She was convicted of the murder of Maria Wolmarans.

She was the fourth woman to be hanged since Botswana’s independence,

Muchena said Masisi has missed an opportunity to break the cycle of executions in Botswana and demonstrate that justice can be delivered without using the death penalty.

He said there was no evidence that the death penalty was an effective deterrent to crime.

According to the rights group, Botswana is the only southern African country that continues to carry out executions.

Amnesty International said four African countries – Botswana, Egypt, Somalia, and South Sudan – have carried out executions despite a landmark judgment by the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights on November 28, 2019, that the death penalty was patently unfair because it denied the convicted person the right to be heard and present mitigating circumstances.

The court also found that hanging as a method of execution amounted to torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment because of the inherent suffering involved.

Amnesty International said last month that significant progress towards the abolition of the death penalty had been recorded in Africa in the past four decades.

Director for Research and Policy Netsanet Belay said while no African country had abolished the death penalty for all crimes 40 years ago, 20 of them have done so to date.

“Of the remaining countries that retain the death penalty in their laws, 17 are abolitionist in practice; they have not executed anyone in the past 10 years and are believed to have a policy or established practice of not carrying out executions.”

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