Parliamentarians from French-speaking Africa commit to the abolition of the death penalty
The civil societies from 13 sub-Saharan countries were represented
The seminar, held on 19 and 20 December 2016, gathered parliamentarians, NGOs and National Human Rights Institutions (NHRI) from 13 French-speaking sub-Saharan countries: Burkina Faso, Benin, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Comoros, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Chad.
The first day, attended by more than 200 participants, aimed at spreading the abolitionist culture within the Burkinabé society. Moreover, the Minister of Justice of Burkina Faso held a speech at the opening ceremony, vividly recalling his commitment in favour of the abolition.
Overall, the challenges of the death penalty in French-speaking countries of sub-Saharan Africa were addressed during this first day. Topics such as the death penalty and the fight against crime, against terrorism or the death penalty and torture were discussed.
The seminar was also the occasion of strengthening the connections among the World Coalition’s members in sub-Saharan Africa, as representatives of Synafen (Niger), Droits et Paix (Cameroon), CPJ (DRC) and several Parliamentarians from PGA were present. Furthermore, Clément Capo Chichi, one of the five experts of the Working Group on Death Penalty of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, attended the seminar.
The crucial role of Parliamentarians in the abolition process
According to Nicolas Perron, ECPM’s program director, “the main objective of the seminar was to favour the networking of parliamentarians at the regional and national levels”. Indeed, parliamentarians play an essential role in the process of the abolition of the death penalty since they are at the heart of the adoption of the national, regional, and even global legislation within international institutions. The seminar’s second day was therefore dedicated to a training for the 50 regional parliamentarians who were present.
In their final declaration, the latter called on all African parliamentarians to create networks between them so as to “take the debate of the abolition into the retentionist parliaments” and to abide by and ratify international instruments dealing with the abolition of the death penalty.
A week after the end of the seminar, Comorian parliamentarians set up the first network of Parliamentarians against the Death Penalty in Comoros, encouraging the organisation of similar seminars at the regional level in the future.
The Opinion-makers: bearers of the abolitionist message
On the sidelines of the seminar for the Parliamentarians, FIACAT organised an awareness-raising workshop for opinion-makers on the abolition of the death penalty, aiming at strengthening the lobbying capacities of the Burkinabé civil society and at supporting the country in the implementation of the UN and African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights’ recommendations. At the end of the workshop, the participants called upon the government to abolish the death penalty in law and to ratify the Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR. Against the background of the Constitution’s revision, they also called upon the Burkinabé Parliamentarians to adopt the draft Penal Code and the draft Penal Procedure Code and not to include any reference to the death penalty.