The President of Kenya, Mwai Kibaki, announced on August 3 that he is commuting the death sentences of everyone on the country’s death row to life imprisonment. The President cited the wait to face execution of the more than 4,000 death row inmates as “undue mental anguish and suffering.” No one has been executed in Kenya for 22 years. The President said he was following the advice of a constitutional committee. Mr. Kibaki has directed government officials to study whether the death penalty has any impact on fighting crime and he appealed to Kenyans to engage in a national debate on the issue, suggesting the government may be preparing the ground for a repeal of the death penalty.

Muthoni Wanyeki, the executive director of the independent Kenya Human Rights Commission, said, “It’s been a long time coming.” The death penalty is a mandatory sentence in Kenya for anyone convicted of armed robbery or murder.

(“Kenya Commutes All Death Sentences,” Associated Press, Aug. 3, 2009). See International and Time on Death Row.