Activities as Working Group ChairpersonWorking Group on Death Penalty and Extra-Judicial, Summary or Arbitrary killings in Africa
53rd ORDINARY SESSION OF THE AFRICAN COMMISSION ON HUMAN AND PEOPLES RIGHTS
9-23 April 2013,
BANJUL, THE GAMBIA.
INTERSESSION ACTIVITY REPORT OF HONOURABLE COMMISSIONER KAYITESI ZAINABO SYLVIE
VICE CHAIRPERSON OF THE AFRICAN COMMISISON ON HUMAN AND PEOPLES’ RIGHTS,
- CHAIRPERSON OF THE WORKING GROUP ON DEATH PENALTY AND EXTRA-JUDICIAL, SUMMARY OR ARBITRARY EXECUTIONS IN AFRICA,
CHAIRPERSON OF THE WORKING GROUP ON COMMUNICATIONS,
- MEMBER OF THE WORKING GROUP ON EXTRACTIVE INDUSTRIES, ENVIROMENT AND HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS IN AFRICA
1. This report was prepared in accordance with Rule 72 of the Rules of Procedure of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the Commission) and covers the activities undertaken between the 52nd Ordinary Session in October 2012 and the 53rd Ordinary Session of the Commission.
2. The Report is divided into four (4) parts. Part A outlines my activities as the Vice-Chairperson of the Commission, Part B outlines my activities as the Chairperson of the Working Group on Communications, Part C outlines my activities as a Member of the Working Group on Extractive Industries, Environment and Human Rights Violations in Africa and Part D outlines my activities as the Chairperson of the Working Group on the Death Penalty and Extra-Judicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions in Africa, including a brief situational analysis on the death penalty and recommendations.
- Activities undertaken as Vice-Chairperson of the Commission
Sessions, Meetings3. From 24 to 28 January 2013, I attended the African Union Policy Organs Meetings: the 20th Ordinary Session of the Executive Council and Assembly of Heads of States and Government Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The delegation of the Commission to the Summit comprised of the Chairperson of the Commission, Hon. Mrs. Catherine Dupe Atoki, myself, in my capacity as the Vice-Chairperson of the Commission, the Special Rapportuer on the Rights of Women in Africa, Hon. Commissioner Maitre Soyata Maiga, and the Secretary to the Commission, Dr. Mary Maboreke.
4. On the sidelines of the Summit, I participated in various meetings, among which are the following:
i. High Level Session on the Abolition of the Death Penalty- On 25th January 2013, I attended the High Level Session on the Abolition of the Death Penalty and gave a Statement on the “Death Penalty in Africa”. The Event was organized by the Chairperson of the Executive Council and Minister of Foreign Affairs, African Integration, La Francophonie and Beninese Abroad of the Republic of Benin and attended by the Chairperson of the AUC, H.E. Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, Members of the Executive Council, representatives from the Directorate of Legal Affairs, AU organs and International organizations.
ii. Inter-Organ Consultative Meeting - On 26 January 2013, I participated in the Inter-Organ Consultative Meeting convened by the Pan-African Parliament (PAP). The meeting was attended by the Commission and the African Court. The objective of the inter-Organ consultations was to create a platform for a better coordination and consultation on common matters relating to the mandates of these institutions and to give visibility to the Organs and articulate their interests and concerns, with a view to enabling the Organs to perform their respective tasks.
iii. Third Joint Meeting of the Bureaus of the Court and the Commission- On 29 January 2013, I attended the 3rd Joint Meeting between the Bureaus of the Court and the Commission. The meeting reviewed the progress made by the two institutions to date and agreed on the steps to be taken until the next Bureaus meeting. The two institutions also held a joint press conference to promote the complementarity mandate of both institutions and in particular, the Protocol to the African Charter on the Establishment of an African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights. The press conference was chaired by the Vice President of the African Court and myself, in my capacity as the Vice-Chairperson of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
Participation in the 13th Extraordinary Session of the African Commission5. From 18 to 25 February 2013, I took part in the 13th Extra-Ordinary Session of the Africa Commission, which took place in Banjul, The Gambia. The Extra-Ordinary Session was organized to consider mainly Communications and other pending reports of the Commission.
6. In November
2012 and February 2013, as the Commissioner responsible for promotional
activities in the Republics of Cote d’ Ivoire, Djibouti and Gabon, I sent
Notes Verbales requesting for authorization to undertake a promotion
mission to these countries. The Commission has to date not received any
responses from the States.
- Activities undertaken as Chairperson of the Working Group on
Communications7. On 17th February 2013, on the sidelines of the 13th Extra-Ordinary Session in Banjul, The Gambia, I chaired the fourth Meeting of Working Group on Communications. The meeting was organised to consider Communications and draft decisions to be presented to the plenary session at the 13th Extra Ordinary Session for adoption. Due to time constraints, the Working Group was only able to consider nine (9) Communications on Seizure, one (1) request for Provisional Measures, and one (1) request for an oral hearing.
8. I will not provide a comprehensive account of the activities of the Working Group on Communications as a detailed Report on Communications has already been presented.
C. Activities as a Member of the Working Group on Extractive Industries, Environment and Human Rights Violations In Africa9. On 11 April 2013, on the sidelines of the session, I took part in the side event of the Working Group on Extractive Industries, Environment and Human Rights Violations in Africa, in which consultations were held on issues related to extractive industries in Liberia in particular, and Africa in general.
D. Activities undertaken as Chairperson of the Working Group on the Death Penalty and Extra-Judicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions in Africa
Expansion of the Mandate of the Working Group on Death Penalty in Africa10. During the 52nd Ordinary Session of the Commission held from 9 to 22 October 2012, in Yamoussoukro, Cote d’ Ivoire, the Commission decided by a Resolution to expand the mandate of the Working Group on Death Penalty in Africa to include issues of extra-judicial, summary or arbitrary executions and accordingly changed the name from the Working Group on Death Penalty in Africa to the Working Group on Death Penalty and Extra-Judicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions in Africa (the Working Group). The Commission further decided to entrust the Working Group with the following additional mandate to:
i. Monitor situations relating to extra-judicial, summary or arbitrary killings in all its ramifications;
ii. Collect information and keep a database of reported instances of situations concerning extra-judicial, summary or arbitrary killings in Africa;
iii. Undertake studies on issues of relevance to extra-judicial, summary or arbitrary killings;
iv. Advise the Commission on urgent measures to be taken to address situations of extra-judicial, summary or arbitrary killings that require immediate attention;
v. Respond effectively to information that comes before it, in particular when an extra-judicial, summary or arbitrary killing is imminent or when such a killing has occurred;
vi. Submit its findings, conclusions and recommendations on the situation of extra-judicial, summary or arbitrary executions to each session of the Commission.
Urgent Appeals11. During the intersession, as the Chairperson of the Working Group on the Death Penalty and Extra-Judicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions in Africa, I sent a Letter of Appeal to:
i. His Excellency, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, on 26 October 2012, following information received which indicated that an execution order has been signed by the Governor of Edo State for the imminent execution of two prisoners on death row in Benin Prison, Edo State, by the names of Messrs. Daniel Nsofor and Osayinwinde Agbomien. The Appeal was sent to urge the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, to ensure that persons facing the death sentence are not executed and that the Government continues to observe a moratorium on executions and to undertake consultations on the complete abolition of the death penalty in the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
An earlier Urgent Appeal was also sent by the Chairperson of the Commission on the same issue.
Reprint of the ‘Study on the Question of the Death Penalty in Africa’12. Following the adoption of the ‘Study on the Question of the Death Penalty in Africa’ by the Commission and its launch at the 51st Ordinary Session of the
Commission, during the intersession, Penal Reform International (PRI) assisted the Working Group with the re-printing of one thousand (1000) copies of the Study to be distributed as a tool for sensitization on the issue of the death penalty in Africa. The Working Group would like to take this opportunity to thank PRI for the assistance and support it provides to the Working Group and the work of the Commission in general.Meeting of the Working Group on Death Penalty and Extra-Judicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions in Africa
13. During the intersession, the Working Group was not able to meet. However the Working Group is in the process of organising its next meeting in May/June 2013, in collaboration with the office of the UN Special Rapporteur on Extra-Judicial, Arbitrary and Summary Executions, to discuss issues on the death penalty, Extra-Judicial, Summary and Arbitrary Executions and to continue the process of drafting the Additional Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Abolition of the Death Penalty in Africa.
Networking with Partners
14. During the intersession, the Working Group continued to interact with its various partners to exchange information on the issues of the Death Penalty, Extra
Judicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions in Africa and to seek funding for the activities of the Working Group.15. In that regard, on 10 April 2013, on the sidelines of the 53rd Ordinary Session, the Working Group organised a meeting with its partners, namely, FIDH, FIACAT, PRI and World Coalition against the Death Penalty to among others, exchange ideas on the issue of the Death Penalty, Extra-Judicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions in Africa.
Situational Analysis of the Death Penalty in Africa
16. During the intersession, I continued to monitor the death penalty situation in Africa. It was noted that the total number of African countries that have abolished the death penalty to date are seventeen (17) . Statistics indicate that thirty-six (36) African countries still retain the death penalty on their statute books although in twenty-two (22) of these countries there is a moratorium on executions and some death sentences are at times commuted to life imprisonment. Furthermore only about nine (9) African countries have ratified the Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty.
17. Furthermore, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a fourth Resolution 67/176 in December 2012, which called for a moratorium on the death penalty. The Resolution called on member States to gradually restrict the use of the death penalty and not to impose capital punishment for offences committed by persons below the age of eighteen (18) years and pregnant women. The Resolution also called on States to reduce the number of offences for which the death penalty might be imposed and to consider ratifying the Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR. Twenty-three (23) African States voted in favour of the Resolution, eight (8) voted against and twenty-two (22) abstained or were absent.
Recommendations18. I would therefore like to take this opportunity to remind States Parties to the African Charter that capital punishment could constitute a grave violation of fundamental human rights, in particular the right to life under Article 4 and the right not to be subjected to any form of cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment and treatment under Article 5 of the African Charter.
Recommendations19. I would like to urge countries that have taken a step towards the abolition of the death penalty to accelerate the process and also urge countries which have not yet started this process to do so.
20. I would further like to urge States Parties to the African Charter, which have not yet done so, to observe a moratorium on the death penalty in line with the Resolutions of the Commission and the United Nations and to take measures to
abolish the death penalty.
 The States that have as of January 2013 abolished the death penalty are 17 in number: Angola (1992), Benin (2012), Burundi (2009), Cape Verde (1981), Cote d’Ivoire (2000), Djibouti (1995), Gabon (2007), Guinea-Bissau (1993), Mauritius (1995), Mozambique (1990), Namibia (1990), Rwanda (2007), Sao Tome and Principe (1990), Senegal (2004), Seychelles (1993), South Africa (1995) and Togo (2010). The year in brackets indicates when the penalty was abolished.
, Benin, Cape Verde, Djibouti, Liberia, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Seychelles and South Africa.
United Nations Resolution 67/176- 111 States voted in favour of the Resolution and 41 States voted against with 34 abstentions.