From the President
After Bamako (Mali) and Niamey (Niger), it was Brazzaville’s turn (Congo) to host a FIACAT awareness workshop for opinion makers on the abolition of the death penalty. The workshop was held in the run-up to the African Interparliamentary Seminar on the Abolition of the Death Penalty which will also be held in our city on 29 and 30 October.
The issue of the death penalty is a global problem, and our own country, Congo, is no exception. Certainly the votes approving the various UN resolutions calling for a universal moratorium on capital punishment confirm a gradual but determined change in favour of abolition of the death penalty. Congo has been an abolitionist country de facto since 1982 and has always voted in favour of these resolutions.
But ACAT Congo is not satisfied simply with maintaining the moratorium and wishes to pursue the campaign to abolish the death penalty in law. The Criminal Code Review which has just been initiated in Congo should provide the ideal opportunity for integrating the abolition of the death penalty in Congolese domestic law.
We are fully aware that this is a difficult task and that it will take a lot of hard work to change the Congolese mindset on this issue. This workshop was therefore well-timed to give us new strength to tackle the matter and to equip us with the necessary means to work together towards abolition. Delegates came from civil society and several government institutions from the seven departments of the Republic of Congo (Bouenza, Brazzaville, Cuvette, Niari, Plateaux, Pointe-Noire and Pool). The present publication (only in French) is the result of our discussions; it presents summaries of the talks given, the the Final Declaration which we all adopted (only in French), and 10 reasons for abolishing the death penalty in the Republic of Congo. It should serve as a teaching and practical guide to raise everyone’s awareness and to help us progress on the road towards abolition in the Republic of Congo.
In conclusion, I must urge us not to drop our commitment to this noble cause after this workshop. On the contrary the workshop should motivate us to engage further, to use the knowledge we have acquired here, and to work towards changing mindsets in our society so as to bring about together the abolition of the death penalty. This is our duty.
I know that we will be up to this daunting task, and I am certain that one day we will sing together the words of Georges Brassens “mort à toute peine de mort” [“Death to every death sentence”]!
National President of ACAT Congo