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African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights

Press Release on the Execution of Joseph Poni Tselayarona

The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the Commission) regrets the execution of Joseph Poni Tselayarona on 17 February 2018 in the Republic of Botswana.

The Commission reiterates its opposition to the use of the death penalty as it may constitute a violation of Article 4 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the Charter) which prohibits the arbitrary deprivation of the right to life and enshrines the integrity of persons. Furthermore, Article 5 of the Charter prohibits cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment.

The Commission wishes to recall its position in favour of the abolition of the death penalty in Africa. In its Resolutions ACHPR/Res.42(XXVI)99 and ACHPR/Res.136(XXXXIV)08, the African Commission urged State Parties to the African Charter that retain the death penalty to consider establishing a moratorium on the death penalty, with a view to de jure abolition.

The Commission urges the government of the Republic of Botswana to observe a moratorium on the use of the death penalty in conformity with Resolutions ACHPR/Res.136 (XXXXIV) of the Commission.

Banjul, 21 February 2018


Commissioner Kayitesi Zainabo Sylvie, Chairperson of the Working Group on Death Penalty and Extrajudicial, Summary and Arbitrary Killings in Africa

Commissioner Lawrence M. Mute, Commissioner Rapporteur for the Republic of Botswana