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The Leader of Europe's 'Last Dictatorship' Is Facing an Unprecedented Challenge. Here's What It Could Mean for Belarus

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Europe’s longest serving leader Alexander Lukashenko has long worked hard to seem invincible. He has dominated past elections that the U.S. has deemed neither free nor fair and brokered no dissent and suppressed protests. Now, he is facing an unprecedented challenge as he runs for a sixth term as president of Belarus in elections on August 9. A former teacher and political novice, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, has emerged as his main rival, pledging to topple Lukashenko’s regime and restore democracy.
Tens of thousands have rallied across Belarus in some of the country’s biggest opposition protests in a decade, amid mounting frustration over the government’s mishandling of the COVID-19 crisis, combined with grievances about the economy. Referring to Lukashenko, protestors chanted ‘stop the cockroach’ and held placards reading ‘change!’.
“For the first time in his 26-year rule, Lukashenko knows the majority don’t support him,” says Aleksandr Feduta, a former aide to the incumbent, who was i…

Botswana: State execution of Kgosibodiba opens old wounds on death penalty

The execution of Mooketsi Kgosibodiba by the Botswana Government this week in Gaborone, has opened old wounds and deepened public discourse on the death penalty in the country. On one hand, some observers and quite a considerable number of Batswana still believe in death penalty and take every opportunity to support the State to withhold it.

Such insists that the only deserving justice for murderers is to be executed as evidence by their notion and justification: “an eye for an eye.” However, speaking to Weekend Post this week, a renowned attorney who has done murder cases for years expressed his dissatisfaction against the latest development of killing by the State - despite calls to abolish the practice. He asserted to this publication that “this government is cruel… How does the State even find it fit and just normal to kill during the month of Jesus Christ? I find it interesting.”

Although regarded as a secular State, Botswana is predominantly Christian. The prominent lawyer expressed the sentiments following the latest death row casualty, 44 year old Kgosibodiba of Shashe-Semotswane Village who was killed by the State this week, in the early morning hours of Monday 2nd December 2019, at Gaborone Central Prison. Kgosibodiba was executed following the imposing of a death sentence on him by the Francistown High Court on the 14th December 2017, for the offence of murder.


The High Court convicted the now deceased for the murder of his employer Benjamin Makobela on 2nd February 2012 at Makobo village. He later appealed the judgement but was dismissed on the 27th July 2018, by the Court of Appeal. Subsequent to the inhuman effecting of capital punishment on Kgosibodiba, the Western countries accredited to Botswana moved swiftly to condemn Botswana for the action - once again - as they have always taken a stand and an opportunity to state their view.

The European Union Delegation, the EU Heads of Mission in Botswana and the Heads of Mission of Australia and Canada slammed the Botswana government for still maintaining the barbaric practice insisting that it is outdated. They asserted: “in light of the execution of Mr. Mooketsi Kgosibodiba, which took place on 2nd December 2019, the European Union, Australia and Canada reaffirm their strong opposition to capital punishment in all circumstances.”

They continued to point out that the death penalty is a cruel and inhumane punishment, which fails to deter criminal behavior and which represents a grave denial of human dignity and integrity while adding that any miscarriage of justice – which is inevitable in any legal system – is irreversible. The West further explained that death has no appeal, which is why most of countries in the world have stopped applying it.

“We continue to call on Botswana to initiate a public debate on its use of the death penalty, as the Government of Botswana has already agreed on the Universal Periodic Review of the UN Human Rights Council in January 2018. We stand ready to share our experience with the process of abolishing the death penalty,” European Union, Australia and Canada further stressed to Botswana.

Research indicate that 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. It is said that out of the 29 countries in sub-Saharan Africa that still retain the death penalty in law, only four – Botswana, Somalia, South Sudan and Sudan – carried out executions in 2018. In Botswana, the death sentence is usually issued upon murder under aggravated circumstances and is carried out by hanging.

Since independence, there is on average one execution per year, and the execution usually takes place few years after trial. Research indicates that, as of March 2018, there were 51 people on death row in Botswana, a notable increase from previous years. “4 individuals were sentenced to death in 2017 and one person was executed. There was one person on death row at the end of 2016. No new death sentences were imposed in 2016 and one execution was carried out. There were 4 men on death row at the end of 2015. One new death sentence was imposed in 2015,” research further indicates.

Botswana’s constitution provides for the death penalty under section 4(1) which states that, “No person shall be deprived of his life intentionally save in execution of the sentence of a court in respect of an offence under the law in force in Botswana of which he has been convicted.” In the same breath, section 202 of the Botswana Penal Code, which enforces the death penalty, states that, “any person who of malice aforethought causes the death of another person by an unlawful copyright Government of Botswana act or omission is guilty of murder.”

The Penal Code specifies that a person who is sentenced to death will be hanged by the neck until dead. Still in the Penal Code, section 203 states that “subject to the provisions of subsection (2), any person convicted of murder shall be sentenced to death. It continues that where a court in convicting a person of murder is of the opinion that there are extenuating circumstances, the court may impose any sentence other than death. (3) In deciding whether or not there are any extenuating circumstances the court shall take into consideration the standards of behavior of an ordinary person of the class of the community to which the convicted person belongs.”

Despite the pushbacks and calls for abolition of the death penalty, the then Minister of Nationality, Immigration and Gender Affairs, Edwin Batshu adamantly stated that the death penalty will continue to be practiced in Botswana. Batshu was quoted speaking at the 29th session of the third cycle review report of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in Geneva, Switzerland last year February.

Source: weekendpost.co.bw, Staff, December 9, 2019


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"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed,
but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." -- Oscar Wilde

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