The death penalty in Africa

By Dirk van Zyl Smit / African Human Rights Law Journal, on 1 January 2004

This article examines the situation of the death penalty in Africa. It does so byaddressing three main questions: First, to what extent is the death penalty inAfrica in fact an issue about which one should be particularly concerned?Second, what are the restrictions on the death penalty in Africa? Third, whatis to be done to strengthen the restrictions on the death penalty in Africa? Inaddition, the article examines the question whether article 4 of the AfricanCharter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and its related provisions will inspirethe abolition of the death penalty. It is suggested that challenging mandatorydeath sentences, advancing procedural challenges, open debate onalternatives to the death penalty, and improving the national criminaljustice system will strengthen restrictions on the death penalty in Africa. Thearticle concludes that positive criminal justice reform rather than moralisticcondemnation is the most effective route to the eventual abolition of thedeath penalty in Africa.

  • Document type Article
  • Themes list Networks,