The United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand have called on the Botswana government to reconsider its position on the death penalty following this week’s execution of two death row inmates.
In a joint statement, the high commissioners of the four countries reaffirmed their strong opposition to capital punishment in Botswana and called on President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s government to initiate a public debate on whether capital punishment should continue.
“We continue to call on Botswana to initiate a public debate on its use of the death penalty as the Government of Botswana already agreed in the Universal Periodic Review of the UN Human Rights Council in January 2018,” the envoys said.
The death penalty is still used for murder convictions in Botswana, which is the only country in southern Africa that continues to carry out executions.
The Botswana Prisons Service announced this week the executions of 33-year-old Wedu Mosalagae and 29-year-old Kutlo Setima on 8 February at Gaborone Central Prison.
They were both sentenced to death in 2019 for murder-related offences.
A total of six people have been executed since President Masisi’s inauguration in November 2019.
The latest executions have also drawn criticism from rights group Amnesty International which described it as "a chilling reminder of the contempt with which Botswana authorities view the right to life."
“The death penalty is cruel and inhuman, and there is no credible evidence that it has a greater deterrent effect on crime than imprisonment,” Amnesty International easter =n and southern Africa director Deprose Muchena said.
He said the Botswana authorities should instead focus their efforts on addressing the causes of crime.