international treaties on human rights and the death penalty:
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
1st Optional Protocol to the Covenant
Convention on the Rights of the Child
Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
Statute of the International Criminal Court (which excludes the death penalty)
On 24 March 2017, the new Code on Military Justice which abolished the death penalty came into force. It was approved on 7 March by the National Assembly. The new code introduces additional guarantees, such as the one for which the military tribunals do not judge civilians, nor minors and will be composed of civil magistrates who swear to serve in military tribunals. The draft reform of the Code of Military Justice was initiated in 2008 with a review committee of the penal codes, criminal procedure and military justice to replace the rules of 1985. After a suspension, the project was presented by the Minister of Justice, Flavien Mbata, and Minister of Defense Joseph Yakété, to the Council of Ministers which adopted it on 9 December 2016 and then it was forwarded to the National Assembly.
The Code of Military Justice is the second text which does not provide for the death penalty, after the Special Criminal Court, established in 2015, had excluded it by integrating the Rome Statute into domestic law, in line with the rules of international criminal justice. Now, the penal code should be harmonized with theinternational conventions ratified by the Central African Republic.
The last execution took place in January 1981, when six high ranking government officials were executed by firing squad.
Currently, there are no prisoners on death row. At least during recent years, the CAR had not sentenced any individuals to death.
In December 2012, the CAR was plunged into an uprising by Seleka rebel forces that condemned the Bozizé Government for not honouring peace agreements. In March 2013, President François Bozizé fled to Cameroon after the rebel forces attacked the capital city of Bangui and took control of the presidential palace.
In June 2015, the transitional government promulgated a law passed in April to establish a Special Criminal Court inside the national judicial system, consisting of national and international staff, to investigate and prosecute the gravest crimes committed in the country since 2003, including war crimes and crimes against humanity. The maximum sentence of life imprisonment under the law would help bring about international support for the Special Criminal Court and be a logical step for the Central African Republic away from the death penalty.
In 2012, Hands off Cain carried out a mission to the country and obtained a vote in favour of the UNGA Resolution on the universal moratorium on capital executions.
Capital crimes include: aggravated murder, treason, spying, charlatanism and witchcraft, assassination and military offences.
CAR has been led by General Francois Bozize since March 2003, when he toppled Ange-Felix Patasse in a military coup. Presidential elections in May 2005 returned Bozize to power as president, with more than 64% of the vote in the second electoral round. Bozize had promised "transparent elections" on taking power. His transitional government had intensified efforts to restore and reinforce security countrywide by launching a project of demobilisation and reinsertion of former-combatants and support to communities.
On December 5, 2004 CAR voters overwhelmingly approved a draft constitution that reduces the powers of the president and gives more authority to the prime minister and national assembly.
Under Article 1 of the Constitution, the human person is sacred and inviolable; state authorities have an absolute obligation to respect and protect it. Article 3 provides for a right to life that cannot be infringed upon without due process of law, implying that a limited application of capital punishment could be constitutional.
Under Article 22 of the Constitution, it is the President’s prerogative to grant pardons and commute sentences. Neither a pardon nor a commutation may be granted for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.
On 24 April 2003, President Bozizé pardoned 25 people sentenced to death in absentia after the coup of May 2001. On 13 October 2008, the President promulgated a general amnesty law for all felonies perpetrated since 2005, although international crimes were excluded. United Nations
During the 2009 Universal Periodic Review of the Central African Republic by the UN Human Rights Council, the Central African delegation stated that the question of abolition was under discussion; he reaffirmed however that the majority still favored the death penalty because of high crime rates. The Council recommended that the CAR ratify the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights Aimed at the Abolition of the Death Penalty and abolish the death penalty.
In October 2013, the Central African Republic (CAR) was reviewed under the Universal Periodic Review of the UN Human Rights Council. The Government accepted all recommendations regarding capital punishment, including those to speed up the legal process toward the abolition of the death penalty and to accede to the Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR aimed at the abolition of the death penalty.
On December 19, 2016, Central African Republic voted in favour of the Resolution, as in 2014 and 2012, meanwhile it abstained in 2008 and in 2010.