"Public opinion finds its way into the justice system and finally to the decision making platform of the courts through various channels. These include public opinion polls, legislative debates, writings of jurists, social pressures, political situations and referendum on legal issues. Regarding the death penalty, the role of public opinion becomes more debatable because as Kakooza explains, there is a difficulty of addressing death penalty issues as values, national aspirations and conditions of social intercourse vary from society to society. The death penalty touches life, which is the most important of all human rights. It, therefore, remains debatable as to whether it is the courts or the people that may decide the legality of criminal sanctions like the death penalty. Protection of judicial independence conflicts with the need for legitimacy, given that courts are occupied by un-elected judges. While sticking to legalistic and official positions, courts must keep in touch with the public since they need the latter's approval for decisions to be respected and implemented. It is also not clear whether, and if so, to what extent, courts may rely upon public opinion in making decisions, thus the importance of assessing the role it sould play and coming out with a way forward. ... Chapter one comprises the background of the study, statement of the problem, significance of the study, aims and objectives of the study, literature review, methodology and limitations of the study. Chapter two is a discussion of the role public opinion ought to play in court decisions in general, and decisions on the legality of the death penatly in particular. Chapter three is an analysis of the actual influence of public opinion on court decisions on the legality of the death penalty. It also has a comparison of court practice in Uganda and South Africa and includes a critique. Chapter four is a presentation of arguments for and against the role of pulic opinion in court decisions. Chapter five contains conclusions from the research findings and recommendations on how public opinion should be treated in court decisions generally, and the legality of the death penalty in particular." -- Introduction.
Prepared under the supervision of Dr. Raymond A. Atuguba at the Faculty of Law, University of Ghana, Legon
Thesis (LLM (Human Rights and Democratisation in Africa)) -- University of Pretoria, 2006.