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Successful appeal in Ugandan death row case

23rd April 2024

A man who faced the death penalty has been reprieved following a challenge to his sentence at the Court of Appeal in Uganda on 27 February 2024.


WM was convicted of murder, after trial before the High Court in 2010. He was 15 years old at the time of the offence. The maximum sentence that can be lawfully imposed on a juvenile in Uganda is three years imprisonment. The trial judge determined, on State medical evidence, that WM was in fact an adult. At the conclusion of the proceedings, an order was made for him to be executed. He was to spend the next 14 years on death row. 


WM was assisted by the criminal justice development charity, Evolve FILA. Mary Ruck KC, of Byrom Street Chambers, and Marianne Alton, of Lincoln House Chambers drafted urgent submissions when the appeal was listed at short notice, contending that the imposition of the death penalty was unlawful and findings in relation to his age were seriously flawed. Geoffrey Turyamusiima was the advocate at the Court of Appeal sitting in Mbale, Eastern Uganda.


Allowing the appeal, the Court of Appeal quashed his sentence and ordered that he should spend no further time in custody. His immediate release was ordered.


A full judgment will be handed down in due course.


All those involved acted pro bono.


(WM and Geoffrey Turyamusiima following WM’s successful appeal)

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