In the book of Genesis, Chapter 3, it is said that Adam and Eve were told by God not to eat the forbidden fruit. However, they were tempted by the serpent and did eat it. When God came and asked what happened, they said the devil tempted them, thus trying to put blame on the devil. This did not stop God from punishing them. The punishment in this book represents one of the earliest recorded punishments.
Punishment has since then become a part of human society, and it is one of the reasons the Law as we know it exists.
The Law in Uganda, for example, has a variety of punishments, the least severe of which are simple warnings and fines e.g. for first-time offenders in certain cases, and the most severe being the death sentence in crimes such as Murder.
There are a number of reasons for punishments including:
1. Deterrence: It is hoped that when a person knows what punishment he/she might suffer in case a crime is committed, such a person might think twice and be deterred from carrying out the crime.
2. Incapacitation: This basically involves doing something which prevents the criminal from doing the same crime by removing the said person from society. Examples include death sentence, imprisonment.
3. Rehabilitation: This usually involves steps taken to reform the criminal so that he/she learns not to do the said crime in future e.g. counseling.
4. Retribution: With punishment, it is hoped that when a victim sees the criminal suffer, then the victim will be less inclined to carry out personal revenge. It is partly for this reason that some countries allow people to even come around when a person is being executed.
5. Restitution: This aims to put the victim back at the same financial position he/she was before the crime occurred.
CRUCIFY HIM, CRUCIFY HIM AND WHAT JESUS’ TRIAL TEACHES US ABOUT MOB JUSTICE:
The Bible, in the book of Luke 23:14-25, speaks of how the trial of Jesus ended. In this verse, Pilate, finding no wrong with Jesus, was willing to have him released.
However, the mob kept demanding for his crucifixion through chants of Crucify him, crucify him. Bowing to their pressure, Pilate obliged and Jesus was crucified. This incident marks one of the earliest recorded incidents of mob justice.
Mob justice refers to the act of a group of people taking the law into their own hands to condemn and punish an alleged criminal and is very prevalent in Uganda today. In many cases, suspects are lynched then stoned, beaten to death, or burnt in car tires.
According to the Police crime report, mob justice is still one of the highest causes of unlawful deaths. In 2013, death by Mob Justice was recorded as the second highest cause of unlawful deaths in Uganda, after death by gun shootings.
Sadder still, not everyone killed in mob justice is guilty. If we recall, there was an incident where a young man at Makerere University was killed by a mob of students at one of the halls of residence, having been suspected of being a thief. It later turned out he was a former student, who had come to visit someone in the hall.
The constitution says that everyone is innocent until proven guilty, this means, people should be given a right to a fair trial before being condemned.
As we acttoday, let’s also learn that a given country can overcome this scourge of mob justice, and let the rule of law prevail worldwide.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Joseph Semuju leads the programming team at Crossroads Digital Multimedia Limited. He is a native Ugandan and has worked for the Crossroads Digital Multimedia Limited as a 3D Computer Animator for the last two years. He received a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science with a second class – upper division from Makerere University. Joseph is someone who is constantly on a mission to keep things running smooth, fast, and in a more automated fashion. No tech question scares him; if he does not know the answer, he takes time to find it. He is detail oriented, thrive on efficiency, and ready to impact a positive change in Africa and the rest of the world through research, writing, and active citizenship.