The death penalty in sub-Saharan Africa in 2008

'Making sure my buddy breathes his last', drawing by former inmate Arthur Judah Angel

'Making sure my buddy breathes his last', drawing by former inmate Arthur Judah Angel

© Arthur Judah Angel

In 2008 in sub-Saharan Africa, there were at least two known executions carried out - in Botswana (1) and Sudan (at least one).

At least 362 people were known to have been sentenced to death in 19 African countries: Uganda (114), Sudan (60), Democratic Republic of Congo (at least 50), Nigeria (at least 40), Ethiopia (39), Mali (at least 15), Chad (at least 12), Mauritania (8), Botswana (4), Ghana (3), Guinea (3), Sierra Leone (3), Gambia (2), Burkina Faso (1), Burundi (1), Niger (1), Kenya (+), Madagascar (+) and Tanzania (+).

In a particularly regressive move, Liberia reintroduced the death penalty for the crimes of robbery, terrorism and hijacking on 22 July 2008. Liberia reintroduced the death penalty despite being a party to Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

In Nigeria, at least 40 new death sentences were handed down in 2008. This brings the total estimated number of people on death row to 735, including 11 women. Hundreds of those did not have a fair trial.

Approximately 140 people have been on death row in Nigeria for longer than 10 years; some for over 20 years. Around 80 were denied the right to an appeal as they were sentenced before 1999 by the Robbery and Firearms Tribunal. Approximately 40 were under the age of 18 at the time of the offence and should not have been sentenced to death.

Twelve years on death row: listen to a song from a Nigerian former death row inmate.

Death sentences and executions in 2008 – developments around the worldwide application of the death penalty in 2008.