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EU Delegation condemns Botswana for capital punishment

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EXECUTED: Poloko

The European Union(EU) Delegation has once again taken a swipe at the government of Botswana over capital punishment following the hanging of murder convict, Uyapo Poloko, last Friday.

The 37-year-old Poloko was executed at the Gaborone Central Prison following a death sentence handed down by a Francistown High Court on July 28, 2015 for murder.

Poloko was convicted for both robbery and murder of Vijeyadeyi Kandavaranam in 2010 at Ntshe location in Francistown as well as attempting to kill the deceased’s husband, Balasingnam Kandavaranam.

He received a death penalty for murder and sentenced to 12 years and 10 years for attempted murder and robbery respectively.

Poloko later appealed the judgment but his application was thrown out by the Court of Appeal on February 2 this year.

Upon passing sentence, Justice Modiri Letsididi observed that: “The crimes were committed in a brutal and ruthless manner because he strangled the deceased. Strangulation by nature leads to a slow and painful death…In all the circumstances, I am unable to find any extenuating circumstances in the conviction for the offences that could reduce the accused’s blameworthiness,” the judge had noted.

When condemning government’s position on the death sentence, the European Union Delegation said the death penalty is a cruel and inhumane punishment, which fails to deter criminal behaviour and which represents a grave denial of human dignity and integrity. “Any miscarriage of justice – which is inevitable in any legal system –is irreversible. The African Continent has joined the growing trend towards abolition of the death penalty worldwide with 80% of the members of the African Union having already abolished the death penalty in law or in practice.”

The EU Delegation further called on Botswana to initiate a public debate on its use of the death penalty, noting that the Government of Botswana has already agreed in the Universal Periodic Review of the UN Human Rights Council in January of this year.

Poloko’s execution follows the hanging of another murder convict, Joseph Tselayarona, in February this year.