The conference "There is no justice without life, for a peaceful Kenyan society” took place this morning in Nairobi.
It was attended by the representatives of the embassies of Italy, Switzerland, Germany, a representative of the European Union and more than two hundred people, mostly young people. The viewing of the video messages of Pope Francis and Desmond Tutu (whose name was given to the conference room) preceded the presentations.
The conference lasted over two and a half hours during which the speakers raised the issue of the death penalty, after talking about the death penalty had recently begun in response to 5 sentences imposed by a court of Nairobi in connection with the murder of mons. Luigi Locati, apostolic vicar of the Diocese of Isiolo, killed in 2005.
In the end many questions from the audience and a lively debate.
Francis Waithaka, of the Community of Sant'Egidio in Kenya, pointed out that the law in Kenya justifies a violent mentality, with the example of the lynchings of old women considered witches.
First secretary of the Italian embassy Andrea Marino, thanking the Community of Sant'Egidio for his ceaseless work defending life, explained at length the role of Italy and the EU in the fight against the death penalty and in the defence of human rights.
Bill Pelke, of the association Journey of Hope, told about his experience and the great suffering endured by his family, focusing on the experience of those family members of victims that chose the path of Christian forgiveness, explaining why no relief is felt from revenge.
Martha Karua, former Minister of Justice, who attended the conferences of the Ministers of Justice organised by Sant'Egidio in Rome, said that the death penalty is not effective and contradicts in the facts the respect for the rights promoted by the new constitution.
A few years ago, when there was the debate on the new constitution (and the minister was then among the settlers) the courage lacked to remove it from the Constitution, making a bold gesture that today would have brought fruits of peace and non-violence. She then added that the State does not want and can not deal with raising public awareness as it would be necessary, this is better achieved by NGOs such as the Community of Sant'Egidio. The former minister finally ended her speech by expressing the hope that the Community of Sant'Egidio may cooperate with the government and the Kenyan Parliament to spread a new culture on this issue.
Andrea Trentini, part of a delegation of Sant'Egidio from Rome, explained the work of Sant'Egidio and the reasons for being against capital punishment and how this results in a lowering of morale of the whole society and of the dream that the death penalty becomes for our children a thing of a barbarian past as was slavery or racial discrimination.
Tutah raised the matter of extrajudicial killings by the police and the legal modalities of reacting to violence.
Waweru, an expert of Nakuru County Public Service Board and Security of Kenya, spoke of the defence of human dignity and the fact that, as Christians, only God can take life.
The debate touched on different topics: what living is like on death row, how to convince a victim to forgive, how to change the law, lynchings and how to fight against them, the inequality as a cause of violence, terrorism and the ineffectiveness of the death penalty as a deterrent, injustice to the poor and, finally, the question of being able to engage against the death penalty.