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[Press Release] Continental Conference on the death penalty in Africa: A decisive step towards an abolitionist continent

July 2014

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FIDH – International Federation for Human Rights
WCADP – World Coalition Against the Death Penalty
FIACAT – International Federation of Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture

Press release

Continental Conference on the death penalty in Africa: A decisive step towards an abolitionist continent

Cotonou, Paris, Nairobi, July 4, 2014 – From July 2 to 4, 2014, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR), in cooperation with the Benin authorities, organised, in Cotonou, Benin, the first Continental Conference on the death penalty.

This Conference, which gathered representatives from African Union (AU) Member States, parliamentarians, national human rights institutions, civil society organisations, has permitted to debate on the issue of the death penalty in Africa as well as on the need for the adoption of a regional legal instrument on its abolition. Today, 78 Human Rights Organizations launch a “Manifesto for a Protocol to the African Charter on the abolition of the death penalty” supporting the adoption, by AU Member States, of a regional legal instrument expressly stating the abolition of the death penalty.

For Karim Lahidji, FIDH President " The ongoing debates on the death penalty in Africa constitute an undeniable opportunity for African countries to strengthen the global and growing movement in favour of the abolition of the death penalty. Concrete actions and commitments must be made in favour of the adoption of an African Protocol explicitly abolishing the death penalty ".

For Paul Angaman, Chairperson of ACAT Côte d’Ivoire and member of FIACAT, “the adoption of an African Protocol on the abolition of the death penalty will allow AU Member States to develop a sense of ownership of the abolitionist movement and to strengthen the continental dimension of the abolition of the death penalty”.

The regional trend against the death penalty is a reality: 17 AU Member States have enacted laws to abolish the death penalty [1], including 4 States in the past 5 years, and 19 other Member States are de facto abolitionist. Despite this encouraging trend towards abolition, resistance remains: in 2013, death sentences were passed in at least 23 African countries [2] and executions were carried out in at least 5 of them. [3] "The abolition of the death penalty will soon become a matter of the past. It is important to continue debating openly with African States which still retain the death sentence and to explore together with them, strategies to achieve abolition , said Alice Mogwe, FIDH Deputy Secretary General, Director of DITSHWANELO – The Botswana Centre for Human Rights and Member of the ACHPR Working Group on the Death Penalty.

Among the strategies envisaged by the ACHPR Working Group on the Death Penalty to achieve a continental abolition is the adoption of a regional legal instrument on the abolition. In 2011, following a study on the situation of the death penalty in Africa, carried out with the support of FIDH, FIACAT and the WCADP, the Working Group had indeed recommended African States to adopt a Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the abolition of the death penalty.

According to Florence Bellivier, President of the World Coalition against the Death Penalty, " the adoption of an African regional instrument aiming at the abolition of the death penalty would help to clarify the legal means to achieve abolition. It would also be an encouraging instrument which would strengthen the advocacy for the universal abolition. "

FIDH, FIACAT and the World Coalition against the Death Penalty were represented at this Continental Conference along with representatives of their member and partner organisations from Senegal, Burkina Faso, Botswana, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Nigeria, Mali, Côte d’Ivoire, Benin, Congo, Tunisia, Nigeria, Benin, Mali, Côte d’Ivoire. Our organisations will continue calling for a Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, explicitly abolishing the death penalty in Africa, to be proposed to the African Union for its adoption.

Press contacts:

  • FIDH: Arthur Manet (French, English, Spanish) - Tel: +33 6 72 28 42 94 (Paris)
  • FIACAT : Guillaume Colin – Tel. +229 61 61 69 44 – g.colin@fiacat.org
  • WCADP : Maria Donatelli Tel. +33 1 80 87 70 43 – contact@worldcoalition.org

Footnotes

[1] South Africa, Angola, Benin, Burundi, Cape-Verde, Ivory Coast, Djibouti, Gabon, Guinea Bissau, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Seychelles, Togo.

[2] Algeria, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Egypt, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo, Tunisia, Western Sahara, Sierra Leone, Sudan, South Sudan, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

[3] Botswana, Nigeria, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan.

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