African Great Lakes Coalition gets stronger
The text below is the first one written by the regional coalition’s activists for Africabolition.org, a cross-border publication tool set up by Together Against the Death Penalty and the World Coalition with financial support from the European Union.
The 7th World Day Against the Death Penalty was celebrated on October 10, 2009 in Kinshasa. On that occasion, the website of the Great Lakes Coalition was officially launched. Thomas Hubert, who designed the site, organised a training session on the utilisation of the website for all the Coalition’s member organisations.
Aside from that workshop, several speakers discussed education to the abolition of the death penalty. They focused on school students, whom we should help appropriate abolitionist values. Moreover, several states keeping executing juvenile offenders despite the ban on child executions established in international law – most notably in the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Members of Parliament and law professors trained teachers and students into abolitionist arguments; they, in tunrn, went out to raise awareness among schoolchildren across Kinshasa. During those visits, the World Coalition’s petition againt the execution of juvenile offenders was signed by more than 2,400 people – a success.
Opening the World Day event, Liévin Ngondji, president of Congolese NGO Culture for Peace and Justice (CPJ), encouraged Rwanda and Burundi to preserve the abolitionist progress they have achieved. He said: “We are going to discuss the steps forward made in our Great Lakes region in the abolitionist struggle, but we are also going to examine the fragility of those improvements due to recurring armed conflicts.”
The coalition also adopted its bye-laws at its first general meeting. Organisations from DR Congo’s eastern provinces, Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda took part in the general meeting.
The workshop and surrounding event were made possible thanks to financial support from the French embassy in the Democratic Republic of Congo.