World Day Buzz In Africa

World Day

By Emile Carreau, on 6 October 2011

With so many events planned in so many different countries for this World Day themed “the inhumanity of the death penalty”, abolitionists are confident of a brighter future on the continent.

One of the bigger events is the ‘Regional Conference on the Abolition and/or Moratorium on the Execution of the Death Penalty’ organised by the Government of Rwanda with Hands Off Cain and the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty, to be held in Kigali. The conference will have participants from at least 24 different African countries and representatives from the European Union and African Union.
According to the organisers, “The conference aims to launch a major debate on the need to abolish the death penalty on the African continent or at least impose a moratorium on its execution across the entire Continent.”
In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Jean-Jacque De Christ Nganya from Pax Christi Uvira said their debate and public march will be  “Mobilsing awareness of the abolition of the death penalty among the Congolese people, which is also considered as a solution to violence and crime.”
So robust is the current abolitionist movement in Africa that even American abolitionists want to get in on the action. Journey of Hope, a World Coalition member organisation that is led by murder victims family members will be going on tour in Uganda and other neighbouring countries to spread their message of healing through reconciliation rather than retribution.
Journey of Hope founder Bill Pelke said “If anyone can talk about inhumane and the death penalty, we can.”

The abolitionist Buzz!

It is not hard to understand why the abolitionist buzz has taken hold. In recent years Africa has seen several countries move from a moratorium on executions to abolitionists in law, with the most recent being  Benin whose Parliament voted overwhelmingly to ratify the UN Protocol to abolish the death penalty earlier this year.
As Guillaume Colin, Programme Officer for FIACAT, points out  “through sensitising public opinion, and especially influential leaders (chiefs, religious leaders, media…) civil society pressures the nation states to abolish the death penalty. This was the experience in Benin in recent years.”
Colin continues,  “In the majority of African countries that apply a moratorium on the death penalty, the governments use the public opinion argument as an excuse to not take that next step towards abolition.”

This World Day is an excellent opportunity for African civil society to sensitizes the public opinion on the cruel, inhumane et degrading nature of the death penalty and to convince African governments of its inefficacy.

For more information on events in Africa and other locations the world over, please click here to visit the World Day calendar.

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