24 April 2018 :
The African Regional Congress Against the Death Penalty, held in Abidjan in Ivory Coast on April 9th and 10th, ended with a Declaration adopted by acclamation from the approximately 300 participants in the solemn closing session.
Speaking in the Congress, Antonio Stango, member of the Board of Directors of Hands-off Cain and already coordinator of the World Congress against the death penalty held in Oslo in 2016, recalled the association's commitment both to expand the number of States that vote in favor of the next UN General Assembly resolution for the universal moratorium on executions (with missions planned in four African States), and in the current project against the death penalty also in the context of the 'war on terrorism', which sees us engaged in partnership with local organizations in Tunisia, Egypt and Somalia.
Stango also expressed the will to collaborate in the initiatives of the World Coalition for the abolition of the mandatory death penalty as the only possible sentence for some crimes, a law that is still in force in some States, and added that Hands Off Cain believes it is also important to overcome the sentence of life imprisonment.
The conditions of prisoners on death row, even in the case of commuted sentences, have been the subject of a specific debate and will be the theme of the World Day against the Death Penalty of October 10.
The Regional Congress was preparatory to the 7th World Congress against the death penalty, to be held in Brussels in February 2019.
FINAL DECLARATION OF THE AFRICAN CONGRESS AGAINST THE DEATH PENALTY
10 April 2018
On 9 and 10 April, more than 300 abolitionists, activists, diplomats, politicians, parliamentarians, lawyers, former death row inmates and citizens gathered in Abidjan for the first African Congress against the death penalty. After two days of debating and sharing experiences, the delegates adopted a final declaration at the closing ceremony.
This Congress, organized by ECPM in partnership with the World Coalition against the Death Penalty, FIACAT and the CNDH-CI and hosted by Côte d'Ivoire, is a preparatory step for the holding of the 7th World Congress against the death penalty in Brussels in February 2019.
The participants in the African Regional Congress, organised in Abidjan (Ivory Coast) from 09 to 10 April, 2018 by the association ECPM- Together Against the Death Penalty in partnership with the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty, the FIACAT and the CNDH-CI, hereby
ADOPT the present Declaration following two days of intense debates, exchanges of experiences, testimonies, and official declarations;
- that the abolitionist movement is expanding in a world where almost 3/4 of the countries have abolished the death penalty in law or in practice;
- that among the 55 African states, 4/5 are abolitionists: 20 states have abolished the death penalty in law for all crimes and 22 states observe a moratorium on executions;
- that in the last ten years, 7 African states have abolished the death penalty: Benin, Burundi, Congo, Gabon, Guinea, Madagascar, Togo.
- that the right to life is enshrined in and protected by every international and regional human rights instruments in particular in article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and Article 4 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights;
- that the abolition of the death penalty is essential to the efficient protection of the right to life and to the full recognition of the inherent dignity of every human being;
- that no International law provision provides for the death penalty for the most serious crimes (genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes);
- that the fight against terrorism is used as a pretext by some governments, to justify the extension of the scope of application of the death penalty and resume executions;
-that the death penalty is often used in a discriminatory manner, especially based on socioeconomic status and sexual orientation;
- that the people sentenced to death suffer, because of their status, from conditions of detention which constitute cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment;
- that 13 countries still retain the death penalty in Africa, and often apply it in an arbitrary manner;
UNDERLINING THE NECESSITY TO TAKE FURTHER SIGNIFICANT STEPS TOWARDS THE COMPLETE ABOLITION OF THE DEATH PENALTY IN AFRICA,
WE CALL UPON:
The regional and international Intergovernmental organisations:
- to pursue and intensify cooperation with States and civil society to promote the abolition of the death penalty In Africa;
- to adopt without delay the draft Protocol to the African Charter on human and Peoples’ Rights on the abolition of the death penalty in Africa.
The States present at the Congress of Abidjan
- Côte d’Ivoire and Guinea: to ratify the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights;
- Burkina Faso: to adopt the draft constitution providing for the abolition of the death penalty
- Chad: to withdraw the law on terrorism adopted in July, 2015;
- the DRC to vote in favour of the United Nations resolution calling for a universal moratorium on executions;
Retentionist African states to commit:
- to abolish the death penalty for all crimes
- to observe a moratorium on death sentences and executions in conformity with the United Nations and African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights’ resolutions ;
- to abolish the mandatory death penalty;
- to gather and publish regular, scientifically reliable and independently produced information on the application of the death penalty.
African states abolitionists in law or in practice:
- to sign and ratify the UN Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights;
- to support the adoption of the draft Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Abolition of the Death Penalty
- to vote in favour of the Resolution for a universal moratorium on the use of the death penalty of the General Assembly of the United Nations and to co-sponsor it
- to support civil society actors working in favour of the abolition;
- to gather in national, regional and international networks to bring the abolitionist debate in their parliaments;
National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs):
- to systematically include the issues related to the death penalty in their action plan and to encourage their states to abolish the death penalty and to vote in favour of the UNGA resolution calling for a universal moratorium on capital punishment.
Abolitionist civil society,
- to join the World Coalition against the Death Penalty
- to create or join national coalitions against the death penalty;
- to carry awareness raising and educational actions on the abolition among the general public, political decision-makers, media, opinion makers and legal professions."
Abidjan, 10 April, 2018