UNDERWAY THE HANDS OFF CAIN CONFERENCE ON ABOLITION AND MORATORIUM IN SIERRA LEONE
|The hall of the Conference
January 13, 2014: Today in Freetown, Sierra Leone, started the Regional Conference on abolition of the death penalty and moratorium. The conference is sponsored by the Government of Sierra Leone and by Hands Off Cain thanks to the financial support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Norway.
The first day was opened by the greeting speech of Abdul Rahim Kamara, Director of the NGO "Manifesto 99", and the opening speech of the Treasurer of Hands Off Cain Elisabetta Zamparutti. Since the early statements the conference showed aÂ message of tolerance and non-violence as an alternative to retributive and violent logic inherent in the death penalty.
Charles Caulker, Chairman of the National Council of Paramount Chiefs, said that "the pre-colonial African traditions do not provide for the death penalty," which "expresses pessimism about the human being" which, however, can change as said the President of Benin Thomas Boni Yayi in his message to the conference.
In her statement Emma Bonino said that we must strengthen the UN resolution for a moratorium on executions in the agenda of the General Assembly in 2014 and "break free from the colonial legacy of the death penalty."
The Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Justice of Sierra Leone, Samura Kamara and Frank Kargbo, in bringing the salute of President Ernest Bai Koroma, reiterated their commitment to the abolition starting with the constitutional review process in progress.
The afternoon session was opened by Mark Pritchard, MP, UK (Parliamentarians for Global Action), who launched a proposal for "a global parliamentary platform against the death penalty."
The session "The death penalty and the rule of law", was then opened and coordinated by Senator Mark Perduca, Vice President of the Radical Party and member of the Board of Hands Off Cain.
The speakers were the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Benin Nassirou Bako Arifari, Justice Minister Marou Amadou of Niger, Niger historic abolitionist, Deputy Minister of Justice of Rwanda Pascal Bizima Rugnanintwali, and representatives of the Ministries of Justice of Mali and Togo, who have described their experiences of success or temporary defeat in a common path towards abolition of the death penalty.
In the session "The death penalty and public opinion", intervened Maria Donatelli of theÂ "World Coalition Against the Death Penalty", and parliamentarians and representatives of NGOs from Liberia, Burkina Faso, Niger, Mali, Guinea and Ghana.
The Conference continues tomorrow with its third sessionÂ "Death Penalty and the International and regional Debate". It will conclude with a plenary discussion and approval of a final document. (Sources: HOC, 13/01/2014)