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African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights

Working Group on Death Penalty, Extra-Judicial, Summary or Arbitrary Killings and Enforced Disappearances in Africa

The African Commission established the Working Group on the Death Penalty (the Working Group) in 2005 by adopting Resolution ACHPR/RES.79 (XXXVIII) 05- Resolution on the Composition and the Operationalisation of the Working Group on Death Penalty. The latter was mandated among other things to carry out a study on the question of the death penalty in Africa, develop a Strategic Plan including a practical and legal framework on the abolition of the Death Penalty, collect information and continue to monitor the situation of the application of the Death Penalty in African States and submit progress reports to the African Commission at each Ordinary Session.

The Working Group is also mandated to collaborate with other partners, including international, national, governmental and non-governmental institutions for the successful fulfilment of its mandate.    In 2012, the African Commission was concerned about the upsurge in extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary killings in the continent and was committed to eliminate the practice in Africa, as it is a grave violation of the right to life guaranteed by Article 4 of the African Charter.  To this end, the African Commission extended the mandate of the Working Group to also include extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary killings in Africa pursuant to Resolution ACHPR/Res.227 (LII) 2012- Resolution on the Expansion of the Mandate of the Working Group on Death Penalty in Africa.   Further concerned with the emerging issue of enforced disappearances in the continent, which have in some cases resulted in deaths, and being aware of the need to urgently address this issue, as it is a violation of the right to life, the Commission in 2018, further expanded the mandate of the Working Group to include ‘Enforced Disappearances’ pursuant to ACHPR/Res. 408 (LXIII) 2018: Resolution on the Expansion of the Mandate and Composition of the Working Group on Death Penalty and Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Killings in Africa.

    In addition to its initial mandate on the Death Penalty, the Working Group is assigned to monitor situations relating to extra-judicial killings and enforced disappearances in Africa with all its ramifications; collect information and keep a database of reported instances of situations concerning extra-judicial killings and enforced disappearances in Africa; undertake studies on these issues; advise the Commission on urgent measures to be taken to address situations of extra-judicial killings and enforced disappearances that require immediate attention; reports to the Commission on the situation of extra-judicial killings and enforced disappearances at each session; and collaborate with its stakeholders and partners including national governments, international and inter-governmental organizations for the successful fulfilment of its mandate.