On 7 October, British High Commissioner, Alison Blackburne, delivered opening remarks at a parliamentary roundtable on the Abolition of the Death Penalty.
The event was organised by Parliamentarians for Global Action, with support from the FCO’s Human Rights and Democracy Fund. The Speaker of Parliament, Rt. Hon. Rebecca Kadaga, was guest of honour at the event which also included participants from parliament, government, the prison services and civil society. Mark Pritchard MP, Chair of the UK All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on the Death Penalty was also amongst the participants.
Speaking at the event, the High Commissioner said, Working towards global abolition is an important part of the UK’s work to protect and promote human rights throughout the world. We strongly believe that the death penalty undermines human dignity and violates the right to life, the most basic of all human rights.
She also welcomed a new Private Member’s Bill in the Ugandan Parliament, ‘The Law Revision (Penalties in Criminal Matters) Amendment Bill’, which seeks to remove the mandatory death penalty from the statute books and reduce the number of offences that attract the death sentence. Speaking about the Bill, the High Commissioner said,
I was delighted to see the Bill published in the parliamentary gazette last week and I encourage Madam Speaker to ensure this important piece of legislation is expeditiously brought to the floor of the house. I also encourage members of all parties to support the Bill and engage in the parliamentary debate on this fundamental issue.
The British High Commission, through its Bilateral Programme Budget, has supported a series of projects to encourage public and parliamentary debate on the abolition of the death penalty. Most recently the BHC has provided support to the Foundation for Human Rights Initiative (FHRI) to facilitate a dialogue around the draft Bill.
Although the country retains the death penalty on the statute books, no execution has been carried out in Uganda since 1999. In December 2014, in the largest ever UN General Assembly vote in favour of establishing a worldwide moratorium, 117 out of 193 UN member states voted in favour of the resolution. Uganda abstained in the vote for the first time, having previously voted against the Resolution.
Saturday 10 October is World Day Against the Death Penalty.