Statement by the Chairperson of the Working Group on Death Penalty and Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Killings in Africa of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the World Day against the Death Penalty

    As we commemorate the 14th World Day against the Death Penalty, with a particular focus on terrorism related crimes, the African Commission has through its working group on Death Penalty and Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Killings in Africa followed the trends in Africa and has observed that despite the significant improvements made in the abolition of the death penalty, there are countries in Africa that still apply the death penalty for terrorism related crimes. Some countries have also amended their laws to include it, whilst others are in the process of doing so thereby reversing the moratorium trends that have been in operation for years.

    The African Commission has also observed that no convincing evidence has shown that the sentence and execution of alleged terrorists by States has reduced the spate of such crimes globally and in Africa in particular, instead; more people particularly the youth including girls are continuing to engage in such acts whilst erroneously believing that they are martyrs.

    The African Commission is further concerned that most of the trials for such crimes do not always meet the international standards for the observance of due process and fair trial procedures thereby contravening Article 4 of the African Charter which guarantees the right to respect for human life and Article 5 which prohibits all forms of torture, cruel, inhumane or degrading punishment and treatment.

    In view of the above, the African Commission hereby calls on State Parties that impose the death penalty for terrorism related crimes, to observe a moratorium on the sentences with a view to working towards its abolition as well as impose a moratorium on the execution of prisoners on death row by commuting their death sentences to lesser imprisonment terms. 

    The African Commission reaffirms its commitment to continue to work with its partners in its efforts to raise awareness on the abolition of the death penalty in Africa including terrorism related offences as these crimes and punishment have no place in our World today.

    The African Commission also reiterates its call on African Union (AU) Member States that have not yet ratified legal instruments that prohibit the death penalty to do so, in particular the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, aiming at the Abolition of the Death Penalty and to harmonise their national laws accordingly.

                                                                                                      Banjul, 10 October 2016

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