Uganda's Museveni regrets halting death penalty

Yoweri Museveni (File: AFP)
Yoweri Museveni (File: AFP)

Kampala - Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni said on Monday he regretted stopping executions in his "pre-industrial" country, just days after his vow to resume death sentences alarmed rights groups.

Museveni last signed a death warrant in 1999 to execute 28 convicts, while execution under military law was last carried out in 2002.

"I saw some NGOs opposing the death sentence. In a pre-industrial society like ours removing death sentence is a recipe for chaos. We believe in the law of Moses; eye for an eye", Museveni told the annual judges conference in Kampala according to his senior press secretary, Don Wanyama.

"I have been making the mistake of not sanctioning these death sentences, I am repenting," said Museveni.

"As you are aspire for best international practices, you must be aware that societies like the United Kingdom went through the industrial revolution 200 years ago. Here in Uganda and Africa we are dealing with pre-industrial societies," Museveni told the judges.

On Friday, during the passing out of prison wardens in Kampala, Museveni said: "Criminals think they have a right to kill people and keep their heads ... I am going to revise a bit and hang a few."

According to prisons service spokesperson, Frank Mbaine, over 250 convicts are on death row in Uganda.

Amnesty International said Museveni's threat to resume executions was "misguided since there is no credible evidence that the death penalty is a deterrent to crime".

The rights watchdog said that Museveni should instead lead Uganda to fully abolish the death penalty, like 19 other African countries have done.

"Uganda's refusal to carry out executions in recent years has been a credit to president Museveni, but resuming them now would destroy more than a decade of progress, not to mention buck the global trend towards abolition".

Museveni, 73, has been in power for three decades, and could potentially seek a sixth term in office in 2021 if a bill to remove presidential age limits is passed.

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