The ethical dimension in the practice of capitl punishment in Africa
Utwolo, Milton A
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The issue of whether to kill or not is a controversial one. Many philosophers have been trying to resolve the problem of the justification of capital punishment. However, the dichotomy between the pro and anti capital punishment has remained intractable, defying all legal and ethical justification as to when to punish by putting people to death. This has persisted partly because only western moral tenets have been used either in supporting or opposing capital punishment. One way of resolving the philosophical stalemate in the dichotomy of views about capital punishment is seeking a dialogue between Western moral principles and the African conception of capital punishment. This is done in the hope that it would give credence, objectivity and relevance to the practice of the death penalty as a form of punishment in Africa. Through the use of utilitarian moral principles, the study notes that capital punishment as practiced in Africa is neither validated by Traditional African customs nor is it inline with the social and economic aspirations of the continent. It has been argued in this work that the death penalty is cruel, violates human right and is offensive to the principle of preserving life and human decency. Furthermore, this work takes the position that capital punishment is not supported by the emergence of new democratic theories and is fundamentally at variance with the development priorities of the continent. The fact that capital crimes continue to escalate, in spite of the death penalty, supports our view that the philosophy of its practice needs to be re-thought and/or repealed. Consequently, we argue that since it does not measure to the utilitarian criteria for reasonableness, the death penalty should be discontinued in Africa.