state of civil and political rights: Not free
constitution: 18 February 2006
legal system: civil legal system based on Belgian version of French civil law
legislative system: bicameral legislature consists of a National Assembly and a Senate
judicial system: Constitutional Court; Appeals Court or Cour de Cassation; Council of State; High Military Judicial System: Court; plus civil and military courts and tribunals
religion: 50% Catholic; 20% Protestant; 10% Kimbanguist, 10% Muslim, 10% other (includes syncretic sects and indigenous beliefs)
death row: 330-500 (www.deathpenaltyworldwide.org)
year of last executions: 7-1-2003
death sentences: 0
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)
In January 2013, after ten consecutive years without carrying out executions, the Democratic
Republic of the Congo became a “de facto abolitionist” country.
The current Constitution, in place since early 2006, recognises the “right to life”
and the “inviolable nature of human beings.” A proposition for an article
explicitly abolishing the death penalty was rejected by the national Parliament
during the text’s elaboration in 2005.
A bill to abolish the death penalty was rejected by the Congolese National
Assembly on 25 November 2010.
Aggravated murder, aggravated robbery, treason, spying, political and military offences
and genocide are punishable by death.
The last executions took place on 7 January 2003, when fifteen people, charged with crimes such as subversion of the State, treason,
armed robbery and participation in organised crime, were executed in secret at
a military camp close to Kinshasa’s Ndjili airport. These were the first
executions known to have taken place since the lifting, on September 23, 2002,
of a moratorium on executions announced by then-Human Rights Minister Leonard
She Okitundu on 10 December 1999. The executions of the 15 were ordered by the Court
d’ordre militaire (COM) a special itinerant tribunal that, since its
creation in 1997, had been responsible for the execution of some 200
individuals. The COM was abolished on 24 April 2003.
On 28 June 2003 during a meeting with a Hands off Cain delegation in Kinshasa, President Joseph Kabila declared that he would
not authorise any executions, not even those of the men condemned for the
assassination of his father Laurent. Since then, numerous death sentences have
been handed down by Courts and Military Tribunals, but none have been carried
out. In late 2011, President Kabila was re-elected for
a second five-year term.
In 2015, at least 28 new death sentences were issued in the Democratic Republic of the
Congo, according to Amnesty International.
On 29 April 2014, the Democratic Republic of the Congo was reviewed under the
Universal Periodic Review of the UN Human Rights Council. The country’s
delegation rejected recommendations to abolish the death penalty in law and
ratify the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and
Political Rights (ICCPR). In this regard, the government noted that, although
the death penalty remains enshrined in domestic positive law, the DRC observes
a de facto moratorium and the death penalty has not been implemented for 11 years.
On 18 December 2014, the Democratic Republic of the Congo abstained from the
Resolution on a Moratorium on the Use of the Death Penalty at the UN General
Assembly, as in previous years. It was absent in 2008.
On 19 December 2016, it was absent too.