Eight ACATs (France, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Togo, Central African Republic, Burkina Faso, Madagascar and Burundi) and FIACAT took part in the 5th World Congress against the Death Penalty, which was held in Madrid from 12 to 15 June 2013. Over 1,500 people from five continents attended the Congress to consider future strategies for the abolition of the death penalty. The ACAT network took the opportunity which the Congress provided to consolidate the collaborative approach to its work.
The programme drawn up by Ensemble contre la peine de mort (‘Together against the Death Penalty’), the organisation which unites and mobilises abolitionist forces worldwide, focused on the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region and Asia. The two plenary sessions, eleven round tables and eight workshops led by speakers with very different outlooks gave participants the chance to develop new tools and formulate new approaches to their work.
The Congress provided an opportunity to take stock of the challenges facing the abolitionist movement, with these including religious tenets, use of the death penalty for political ends and the social ‘value’ of capital punishment in the eyes of public opinion. All participants cited pressure from the international community and public awareness–raising as being important means of responding to these challenges.
Speaking at one of the last workshops, the President of FIACAT, Sylvie Bukhari-de Pontual, said that, from a legal perspective, the aim should be to include the death penalty in the category of torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. ‘[...]considering that the death penalty constitutes an act of torture under international law is not just a stage on the road to abolition but the final stage , following which the death penalty will be considered illegal in all places and in all circumstances, with no derogations.’
The World Congress ended with a march, which gave the many members of the abolitionist movement present the possibility of making their voices heard outside the walls of Madrid’s Palacio de Congresos.
For further information:
website of the 5th World Congress against the Death Penalty
speech by the President of FIACAT Equating the death penalty with torture: the final step towards abolition
Final Declaration of the 5th World Congress against the Death Penalty