Renewed calls for the abolition of the death penalty at the NGO forum and the 59th Session of the ACHPR
From 17 to 19 October, 2016 the Forum on the Participation of NGOs in the 59th Ordinary Session of the ACHPR (NGO Forum) took place in Banjul, The Gambia. The NGO Forum is an advocacy platform for civil society organisations that gives them the opportunity to share information and adopt resolutions on questions that will be reviewed by the ACHPR during its session. These resolutions are then submitted to the ACHPR.
During the NGO Forum, a panel: “Abolition of the mandatory death penalty in Africa: An immediate step towards full realization of the right to life” was organised by WCADP, FIACAT, FIDH, Ditshwanelo and IBA. The debate addressed the issue of mandatory death penalty and focused on the death penalty applied to women, with the testimony of Susan Kigula. Susan is a survivor of the death penalty and one of the leading petitioners before the Ugandan Constitutional Court for the abolition of the mandatory death penalty in her country, and was released from prison in January 2016. She gave a message of hope to those who are still on death row and wrapped up her presentation by saying: “You can get someone out of the prison, but not of the grave”.
Many African NGOs participated in the Specific Interest Group on the death penalty on the second day of the NGO Forum. Upon the discussion, a draft resolution on the death penalty was submitted to the ACHPR by the Forum, but was not adopted by the Commission.
Call for support on the draft African protocol to the African Charter on the abolition of the death penalty
On 26 October 2016, the Working Group on the Death penalty and extra-judiciary killings organised a panel on extrajudicial killings and the death penalty with special emphasize on the rights of women in Africa. The event saw the participation of representatives of the civil society, governments, and the African Commission.
The World Coalition, represented by its members FIACAT and FIDH was invited as a speaker during this panel and had the opportunity to show the global trend towards abolition in Africa and to call on African Union member states to support the draft African protocol to the African Charter on the abolition of the death penalty.
After the panel, the state delegates from Algeria, Chad, Kenya, Uganda, Malawi, Nigeria and Niger, all countries which apply a moratorium on the death penalty, took the floor in order to express their position and present the difficulties encountered in the path towards abolition. Moreover, several National Human Rights Institutions and NGOs took the floor to ask for the abolition of the capital punishment in their countries.