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EU Delegations in Sub-Saharan Africa mark International Day against the Death Penalty

Several EU Delegations in Sub-Saharan Africa marked the World and European Day against the Death Penalty on 10 October, notably in those nations where the sentence is still applied.

© EC, Gambia

Several EU Delegations in Sub-Saharan Africa marked the World and European Day against the Death Penalty on 10 October, notably in those nations where the sentence is still applied. Through press statements, seminars and participation in wider events organised by human rights groups, EU calls for abolition of the death penalty were heard loud and clear.   

An article in Malawi's 'Nation' newspaper quoted a press release from the EU's Delegation in the country which affirmed the EU's strong and principled position against the death penalty and for the abolition of the sentence worldwide. A landmark ruling of the country's High Court in 2007 abolished the mandatory death penalty but although it has not been applied since 1992, it can still be used in cases of murder, rape, treason, armed robbery and burglary in aggravated circumstances.

The EU Delegation in The Gambia hosted a round table discussion on issues surrounding abolition: the role and responsibility of the state, deterrence, religion and awareness-raising. EU Chargé d'Affaires to The Gambia, Agnès Guillaud, described the event as timely given the execution of nine Gambians on the country's death row in August 2012, breaking the country's 31-year de facto moratorium on the applying the death penalty. She recalled that Protocols 6 and 13 of the European Convention of Human Rights prohibit the recourse to the death penalty under any circumstances, both in peacetime and war. The roundtable debate brought together EU Member State representatives, civil society, and final year students of the Law faculty of the University of Gambia. A press release on the event – reiterating the EU's strong opposition to the penalty – was published by the only two remaining independent national newspapers.

In Chad, EU Ambassador Hélène Cavé, took part in a three-day forum on human rights organised by the NGO GRET and the Ligue Tchadienne des Droits de l'Homme (Human Rights League of Chad) as part of the wider EU-sponsored project on 'media promotion of human rights in Chad,' funded under the European Instrument for Democracy & Human Rights (EIDHR).  Ambassador Cavé drew attention to the EU's commitment to global abolition of the death penalty. Whilst recognising that no execution has taken place in the country since 2003, she appealed for the ongoing reform of the penal code to abolish the sentence de jure

Together with the French Embassy, the EU Delegation in Eritrea organised a public screening of 'The widow of Saint-Peter', a period drama about a condemned man awaiting execution set in French-speaking Canada. It was the first time that this International Human Rights Day was celebrated in Eritrea, and some 250 showed up for the screening, the small costs involved partly raised from the EIDHR In introducing the event, EU Ambassador Marchel Gerrmann spoke about the global trend against the death penalty. Although Eritrea retains the death penalty, no execution has been carried out since the country's independence in 1993.

A day-long event in the Central African Republic organised by human rights organisations in partnership with the EU, France and the United Nations and attended by EU Ambassador, Guy Samzun, featured videos and debates on the subject of 'Regard centrafricain sur la peine de mort' (The death penalty from the viewpoint of a citizen of the Central African Republic).The government of the Central African Republic has set up a committee to review current law on the death penalty and has just submitted a proposal which should bring about its abolition.

In Togo, the abolition of the death penalty in 2009 was commemorated by the organisation by EU Ambassador Patrick Spirlet of an informal discussion of key human rights figures to exchange information.

Useful links:

For more information on the EIDHR and abolition of the death penalty:
http://www.eidhr.eu/highlights/death-penalty

Statement of EU High Representative Catherine Ashton:
http://www.consilium.europa.eu/uedocs/cms_Data/docs/pressdata/EN/foraff/132781.pdf

Last update: 14/11/2012 | Top