The Arab civil society calls for a moratorium on capital punishment


on 6 June 2008

World Coalition member Penal Reform International (PRI) co-sponsored the seminar as part of its two-year project on the abolition of capital punishment in the Middle East and North Africa.
Legal experts, academics, government officials, journalists and human rights activists from countries hosting members of the Arab Coalition Against the Death Penalty attended, together with Swedish and European diplomats.
At the end of the meeting, they issued the “Alexandria Declaration calling upon the Arab countries to implement the UN Resolution 62/149 on the establishment of a moratorium on the death penalty”.
The declaration notes that “ the Arab judicial systems are abusively using the death penalty at the time most countries are abandoning it”.

“Ambiguous” legislation

In the document, the participants highlight the failures of the death penalty system in the Arab world,  where “legislations prescribing death penalty are ambiguous and leave room for wide interpretation”.
They state that “most of the legal and judicial systems in the Arab World are undergoing reforms, implicitly acknowledging some of their intrinsic disfunctionality. Such an imperfect justice system should not be empowered to apply death penalty”.
Regarding Islam, the declaration notes that capital punishment “ is being used in Arab positive laws extensively” and exceeds the requirements of Sharia’a law.
In its recommendations, the participants call on Arab judges to seek “alternative punishments” in capital cases and ask “Arab states which have observed a de facto moratorium to remove this punishment from their legislation in order to prevent its circumstantial use”.
They also encourage members of the Arab media and civil society to intensify their activities towards the death penalty.

Download the Alexandria declaration


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