The death penalty in Sub-Saharan African in 2009

Only two countries in sub-Saharan Africa carried out executions: Botswana (1) and Sudan (at least 9). The death penalty was abolished in Burundi and Togo.

At least 194 death sentences were known to have been imposed in 19 countries in sub-Saharan Africa in 2009 as follows: Benin (at least 5), Botswana (2), Burkina Faso (at least 6), Chad (+), DRC (+), Ethiopia (at least 11), Gambia (at least 1), Ghana (at least 7), Kenya (+), Liberia (3), Mali at least (10), Mauritania (at least 1), Nigeria (58), Sierra Leone (at least 1), Somalia (12, 6 of which in Puntland and 6 within jurisdiction of the Transitional Federal Government), Sudan (at least 60), Tanzania (+), Uganda (+), and Zimbabwe (at least 7).

In April Burundi passed a new penal code that did not include the death penalty. Togo abolished the death penalty in June.

The Sudanese government executed nine men in April 2009; all said that they had been tortured to make them sign confessions. They had been convicted of the 2006 murder of a newspaper editor, Mohamed Taha, who had written articles seen to be critical of Darfuris.

Amnesty International is concerned that the use of torture to extract confessions is built into the Sudanese system of justice.

Between April and June 2009, 54 more people were sentenced to death for their alleged membership of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), a Darfur-based armed opposition group, and for their alleged participation in an attack on the capital, Khartoum, in May 2008.

These new death sentences brought the total number of individuals who had been sentenced to death in connection with the Khartoum attacks to over 100 as of 31 December 2009. All of them were found guilty of crimes such as membership of a terrorist organization and waging war against the state and were sentenced by special Anti-Terrorism courts.

In August, the Kenyan government announced that more than 4,000 condemned prisoners would have their sentences commuted to terms of imprisonment. This is the largest ever mass commutation of condemned prisoners known to Amnesty International. Kenya continues to impose death sentences even though it has not carried out an execution since 1987.

There were also commutations in Nigeria. In June, the governor of Lagos state pardoned and released three death row prisoners. A further 29 prisoners in Lagos state had death sentences commuted to life imprisonment and eight others to various prison terms. However, kidnapping was made a capital offence in six Nigerian states during 2009 – Abia, Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo.

Death sentences and executions 2009

Where "+" is indicated after a country and it is preceded by a number, it means that the figure Amnesty International has calculated is a minimum figure. Where "+" is indicated after a country and is not preceded by a number, it indicates that there were executions or death sentences (at least more than one) in that country but it was not possible to calculate a figure.