Discover below the joint statement co-signed by ASF France concerning death penalty issues in Africa, which was read on Wednesday 21 April 2021 during the 68th session of the ACHPR by the President of ACAT Niger.
The head of the ASF France office in Nigeria, Angela Uwandu, participated in a round table on violence against women, during which she spoke about the situation of women sentenced to death in Nigeria.
African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights
68th Ordinary Session (14 April to 4 May 2021)
Item 7 of the agenda
Activity reports of the Members of the Commission and the Special Mechanisms
Working Group on the Death Penalty
I have the pleasure today to deliver a joint oral statement on behalf of FIACAT, FIDH, the World Coalition against the Death Penalty, ECPM, Avocats sans frontières France, COJESKI-RDC, ECPM, RAL and Reprieve.
The continental trend towards abolition of the death penalty is well established. Three quarters of African Union states are abolitionist: 22 have abolished in law and 18 have a de facto moratorium on executions.
This trend is confirmed by the increase in votes by African states in favour of UN General Assembly resolutions calling for a universal moratorium on the use of the death penalty; from 17 in 2007 to 28 in 2020. While the number of states opposing it has decreased from 12 in 2007 to 6 in 2020. However, it is regrettable that states that have abolished the death penalty such as Burundi, Gabon and Senegal do not vote in favour of these resolutions. The abstentions of Niger and the DRC are to be deplored as they go against their commitments.
Niger is considered abolitionist in practice, with the last execution dating back to 1976. However, the death penalty is still enshrined in the Penal Code and Nigerien courts continue to sentence people to death. Despite recent commutations in 18 December 2020, five people are still on death row, including one woman. This is why we call on Niger to fulfil its commitments, particularly the one made at the 61st session of the Commission, to abolish the death penalty; and to examine the bill of 23 October 2014 authorising Niger's accession to the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (OP2).
Our organisations would like to congratulate Chad - which in addition to being the last African state to have abolished the death penalty - has committed itself in February 2021 to ratifying OP2.
In Congo, despite the adoption of the draft law authorising the ratification of OP2 by the Congolese Parliament, the promulgation of the law is still pending. Our organisations call on the Presidency of Congo to promulgate this law as soon as possible and to deposit its instrument of ratification.
Our organisations would also like to congratulate the President of the CAR, who in his inaugural speech on 30 March, stated that he would continue his efforts to abolish the death penalty. We strongly encourage the CAR to reschedule as soon as possible the examination of the proposed law abolishing the death penalty
Finally, we would like to draw attention to Malawi, which has had a de facto moratorium since 1992. Despite the important and significant steps the state has taken in recent years to reduce the number of people sentenced to death, 12 new sentences have been handed down since 2019. Our organisations call on Malawi to consolidate its measures towards the total abolition of the death penalty.
Since 2016, the process of adopting the draft Protocol to the Banjul Charter on the abolition of the death penalty in Africa by the African Union has been stalled. That is why we call on the Commission to develop a strategy to revive the said text; and on all Member States of the African Union to actively support the adoption of this draft Protocol, especially abolitionist States such as Benin, which has committed itself to it on several occasions.
Thank you for your attention.