Public Awareness Campaign on the Abolition of the Death Penalty

Project start date: June 2009 - Project end date: September 2009
Project number: 2009-23
Beneficiary: Nessuno Tocchi Caino


Hands off Cain is the organization behind the international campaign that reached in 2007 and again in 2008 the historical result of the vote by the UN General Assembly on the resolution calling for a universal moratorium on capital executions.  The approval of that Resolution is a milestone in the struggle to abolish the death penalty worldwide and the implementation of this Resolution may speed up the abolitionist process all over the world. 
Hands off Cain’s present proposal aims to support the abolitionist process through the implementation of the Resolution starting with African countries where there have been recent developments and evolutions in the democratic process hence leading to abolition or a legal moratorium on executions.  In particular the project is focused on the Democratic Republic of Congo because initiatives in that country could have a doubly symbolic role in this project: as the emblem of the martyrdom of Africa on the one hand, and the torchbearer of Africa’s ability to heal its wounds, attain democracy and on the other participate actively in global civil rights campaigns.

Civil wars of modern times perpetrated the worst breaches of human rights but only in Africa reached catastrophic dimensions with millions of victims in the DRC. However, DRC may become the emblem of the Africa’s ability to heal its wounds improving human rights. In 2003, during a meeting with Hands off Cain’s delegation in Kinshasa, President Joseph Kabila declared that he wouldn’t authorise any executions, not even for those condemned for the assassination of his father, former President Laurent Desire Kabila, until Parliament had declared on the death penalty. The new Constitution approved in 2005 doesn’t foresee the death penalty. Time is ripe for the abolition if citizens are also involved trough a public awareness campaign as a result of information activities addressed to the media.

This project, co-funded by the Nando Peretti Foundation will be developed in the following way.
Public awareness campaigns in the target country will be conducted through a seminar addressed to journalists and public opinion makers coming from all districts of the country.
The seminar will be organized by Hands off Cain in partnership with the Congolese Press National Union (UNPC) and will involve journalists from TV, radio and written press, namely:
2 from Bas Congo-kinshasa-Bsa Congo;
1 from Bandundu-Kinshasa-Bandundu
1 from Equateur-Kinshasa- Equateur
2 from Kasai Occidental-Kinshasa-Western Kasai
2 from Kasai Oriental-Kinshasa- Kasai Oriental
2 from Katanga-Kinshasa-Katanga
1 from Maniema
2 from Nord kivu-Kinshasa-Nord Kivu
2 from Sud kivu-Kinshasa-Sud Kivu
1 from Province oriental-Kinshasa-Province Or
The seminar will offer the occasion for public opinion makers and people working on media to know and share main arguments pro and contra death penalty as used at national and international level.  To achieve this goal the seminar will be opened by a Conference that will be held in one day in Kinshasa. Different sessions will allow participants to debate the death penalty issue in different aspects: impunity and the death penalty; moratorium vs abolition; democracy and the death penalty; the debate at international level.
Main protagonist of the history of the abolition will be involved from the country (such as Senator and former Human Rights Minister Leonard She Okitundu who is calling for the abolition); from   Europe (such as the former Minister of Justice Robert Badinter) and from Africa (such as Nobel Prix Desmond Tutu). The seminar will continue next three days as follows under the Oliviero Toscani direction. Oliviero Toscani is, among other things, the author of the Benetton campaign “We, on death row”. During the seminar he will share this experience with people working in the media field in Africa in order to realize an African version of that AD campaign.
Oliviero Toscani will be supported in the seminar by young artists and experts in different fields working at his “La Sterpaia Factory” coming from all over the world and selected for their creative talents through a network of universities and art schools.
The seminar will provide an opportunity to conduct experimentation in groups, under the guidance of masters of arts, to create forms of communication which produces cultural innovation.
The method applied will follow the imperative to learn by doing, the same method used in the Renaissance.

First day. Three working groups will be set up:
a) group TV with editor-in chief, journalists and operators.
The group’s goal is to realize a TV spot against the death penalty and a documentary on the issue using interviews and images of inmates on death rows in Africa, in particular the target country;
b)group radio with editor-in chief, journalists, operators, technical and anchor man of main radio broadcasts;
The group’s goal is to realize three radio spots against the death penalty and interviews on the issue;
c) written press with editor-in chief, journalists, photographers; technicians PAO. The group’s goal is to realize written instruments (slogan, articles, reportages, appeals) on the death penalty.

Second day. Working groups will meet separately and, with European teachers, will share opinions and ideas on how to realize their public awareness instruments. In the afternoon, participants to TV and radio working groups may go out to collect audio and  video material to be used the day after. Visits to death row inmates will also be carried out, wherever possible. Former death row inmates may play a role in explaining the reality of the death penalty, the jail condition and the importance of the commitment to develop human rights.

Third day. Realization of public awareness instruments.
The working group of the press will used PC to realize their products meanwhile TV and radio groups will work at televisions and radios studios.

Fourth day. Presentation of the works and discussion.

The past experience of Hands off Cain demonstrated that fostering partnerships and synergies among Institutions, NGOs and donors from different countries could make a significant impact on political changes in society towards the abolition of the death penalty. This is the reason why the proposed action may result at national level with a better awareness of the death penalty and human rights situation among DRC public opinion makers. They will be in a position to do a great public awareness campaign to support the presentation and the approval of laws towards the abolition or restriction of the use of the death penalty. At international level this result will consolidate the support at the UNGA for a subsequent Resolution calling for a worldwide moratorium on executions.
think global, act local
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