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Uganda: 167 Inmates on Death Row Get Breaks on Sentences

(Sept. 15, 2010) It was reported on September 13, 2010, that 167 inmates who have been on death row in the Ugandan prison system for over three years have had their sentences reduced to life imprisonment, in accordance with a ruling handed down last year by the Ugandan Supreme Court, the highest court in the country (Emannuel Mulondo, 167 Moved from Death Bench to Life Sentence, THE DAILY MONITOR (Sept. 13, 2010),

The Ugandan Supreme Court, in a January 2009 decision, banned keeping individuals convicted of a capital crime on death row for over three years. The Court held:

For those respondents [inmates on death row] whose sentences were already confirmed by the highest [appellate] Court, their petitions for mercy under article 121 of the Constitution must be processed and determined within three years from the date of confirmation of the sentence. Where after three years no decision has been made by the Executive, the death sentence shall be deemed commuted to imprisonment for life without remission. (Attorney General v. Susan Kigula & 417 Others (Constitutional Appeal No. 03 of 2006) [2009], Sup. Ct. of Uganda 6 (Jan. 21, 2009), available a Uganda Legal Information Institute (ULLI) website,

In addition, the Court found the imposition of mandatory death sentences by Parliament inconsistent with article126 of the Ugandan Constitution on the exercise of judicial power, and therefore unconstitutional (id.; Constitution of the Republic of Uganda, 1995, Embassy of the Republic of Uganda (Washington, D.C.) website, (last visited Sept. 14, 2010)).