COMOROS: RADICALS AND HOC DELEGATION MEETS MINISTER OF JUSTICE ON VOTING FOR THE U.N. RESOLUTION
|Young prisoners in Moroni
November 18, 2014: After the stage in Zimbabwe, since yesterday the delegation of Hands Off Cain and the Nonviolent Radical Party Transnational and Transparty is now in the Comoros, with the aim of finding support to the UN resolution for a moratorium on executions that the General Assembly will vote in mid-December.
This day began with a meeting with the Minister of Justice of the Comoros Ousseini Abdou, a doctor by profession and a member of the government for 16 months.
Minister Ousseini, who is personally opposed to the death penalty, recalled to the delegation the steps the government has undertaken nationally and internationally to abolish the death penalty.
At the national level, the government advanced an abolitionist bill that was rejected by Parliament with religious motivations.
At the international level, in the Universal Periodic Review, where, at the UN Council on Human Rights, the Comoros have accepted 126 of the 133 recommendations (including to ratify the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights).
The Minister recalled that since he has been in office no death sentence was signed. In the Comoros, the last death sentence was issued in 2012. As for executions, the country is on a de facto moratorium, with a few people on death row. Minister Ousseini, who is running in the next election, will coordinate with the colleague of Foreign Affairs to arrange the vote in December at the United Nations.
The mission in the capital of the Comoros ended with a meeting in the Parliament and a visit to the central prison in Moroni. In the meeting with some lawmakers have been addressed issues that have blocked the path towards abolition.
In addition to an opposition based on the Islamic aspects of the constitution, the other problem identified was the proximity to the start of the election campaign, where an issue such as the death penalty is often misrepresented and manipulated for electoral purposes. The new parliament will take office at the end of January.
The delegation of Hands Off Cain and the Radical Party has then returned to the Moroni prison, a dilapidated structure that dates back to the French colonial rule.
Of the 221 inmates in the prison, the convicts are only 25. There are 8 women, and 6 minors. Those condemned to death are 6, and 2 those sentenced to life imprisonment. To date there were also 17 people accused of attack on the security of the state.
Prisoners live in a state of utter promiscuity.
In areas that could allow hospitality to 80 people (although according to the standards of the World Health Organization that prison should accommodate 50) coexist sentenced and awaiting trial, sentenced to death for murder and petty criminals, older people and minors.
Prison conditions are very poor and unhealthy, and health care almost non-existent.
The daily ration of food, always the same for years, consists of a single bowl of rice and sardines, which may be the only source of food for those who cannot afford some integration with the different food brought by family members in prison.
The delegation held talks in particular with minors and sentenced to death, including with Fekkak Abdellaziz, Moroccan aged 47, sentenced to death in a crime of passion, who said, "In many years here I have never been examined by a doctor".
The structures of the Penitentiary are completely inadequate. For example, the office of the director of the prison are in a room six feet by three. Even the infirmary is inadequate: the hall is used as a dormitory for some army guards. (Sources: Hands off Cain, November 18, 2014)