11 April 2018 :
The work of the 3rd African Regional Congress Against the Death Penalty has been opened in Abidjan, in Côte d'Ivoire. The regional congresses are held every three years, in a different continent, in the year that precedes a World Congress: the last one, dedicated to Asia, took place in 2015 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Organized by ECPM - Ensemble contre la peine de mort - together with the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty, of which Hands Off Cain is part, the Congress sees the participation of about 300 representatives of NGOs, governments, intergovernmental organizations, parliamentarians and journalists of a thirty countries. Hands Off Cain is represented by Antonio Stango, a member of the Board of Directors and already coordinator of the World Congress held in Oslo in 2016.
The main objective of the Congress is to promote concrete steps towards the abolition of the death penalty across the African continent, where the majority of states are now abolitionist de jure or de facto, while 10 are the maintainers and 17 have a moratorium in place. One of the tools under discussion is the Additional Protocol against the Death Penalty to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights, which is hoped to be signed and ratified by many African States. The preparation of the World Day against the Death Penalty of 10 October, which this year will be dedicated to the conditions of detention of the sentenced, and the prospect of voting on the forthcoming resolution for the universal moratorium of the UN General Assembly are also examined.
At the beginning of the meeting, the Minister of Justice of Côte d'Ivoire highlighted that his country is against the death penalty in all circumstances and that, even when it was in force, there have never been executions after the achievement of independence; it also confirmed the commitment to universal abolition.
During the first day of the Congress they alse intervened Namizata Sangaré, president of the National Commission for Human Rights of Côte d'Ivoire, Kevin Miguel Rivera, president of the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty, Raphaël Chenuil-Hazan, Director General of ECPM, Paul Angaman, President of the International Federation of Christian Action for the Abolition of Torture (FIACAT), Andrea Ori, regional representative for West Africa of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights , and the Ministers of Justice of the Republic of Guinea Cheick Sako, of Burkina Faso Bessolé René Bagoro, of Chad Djimet Arabi, of the Democratic Republic of Congo Marie Ange Mushobekwa and of Niger Marou Amadou.
The International Commission against the Death Penalty (ICDP) was at the Opening Session as well.
The Congress also heard the testimony of Pete Ouko, a former death row prisoner in Kenya.