Senegal vows harsher sentences as death penalty debate rages

2016-11-22 20:06
Senegal's president Macky Sall. (AFP)

Senegal's president Macky Sall. (AFP)

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Dakar - Senegal's president has promised full-life sentences for murderers after a series of horrific crimes in the west African country, as calls mount to reinstate the death penalty.

Macky Sall was speaking at the funeral of top government advisor Fatoumata Mactar Ndiaye, who had her throat slit on Saturday at home, allegedly by her chauffeur.

"At the next ministerial meeting, we are going to look again at our policy," Sall said in comments reported Tuesday by local media.

Sall said sentences would be hardened for those convicted of murder "to ensure that whoever shortens the life of another spends the rest of his life in prison," Le Soleil newspaper reported.

The death penalty was abolished in 2004 but the country had not executed anyone for several decades before that.

Ordinarily peaceful, Senegal has been rocked by crimes such as Ndiaye's murder and the shooting of a taxi driver on October 27 by another driver following an argument at a petrol station.

Prominent politicians and religious leaders have called for the government to go further and reintroduce the death penalty.

"It is time that we bring back the death penalty to Senegal," declared influential imam Massamba Diop to local newspaper Liberation on Monday. "God told us: 'If you want a peaceful life, those who kill, kill them'."

After the death of the taxi driver, parliamentarian El Hadj Diouf of the Workers and People's Party (PTP), part of Sall's ruling coalition, said criminals had been given "too many pardons."

"Those who kill, steal, rape, do not deserve pardon. I think we have to go back (to the death penalty)," he told parliament.

The move comes as part of a wider reform of the justice system following years of overcrowding in Senegal's jails and a recent riot over conditions.

Sall and his justice minister, Sidiki Kaba, are openly against a return to the death penalty.

Read more on:    macky sall  |  senegal  |  west africa

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