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


The project goals were to organise a seminar addressed to public opinion makers and people working on media in RDC and to provide an occasion to know and share main arguments pro and contra death penalty as used at national and international level, under the guidance of masters of arts in order to create forms of communication with elements of cultural innovation in the field of human rights.

The seminar took place at the Centre Nganda in Kinshasa from 11 to 14 June 2009 and was organized by Hands off Cain in partnership with the Congolese Union Press (UNPC) and the Social department of the RAI-TV (Italian radio and tv) under the guidance of Oliviero Toscani who was supported by a team from his school of arts named "La Sterpaia Factory". Aspects of form and substance of the seminar had previously been agreed during a preliminary meeting held in Rome in April 2009. Centre Nganda was choused because it Participants were invited to a national conference on the abolition of the death penalty promoted the day before (10th June, 2012) by Hands off Cain , under the patronage of the Senate of the DRC and with the financial support of the Italian Minister for Foreign Affairs. After attending this political event, the over 50 journalists, opinion makers, photographers and technicians of TV, radio and print media Congolese (45 coming from all the provinces of the DRC and 5 from Kinshasa) were asked to follow 3 days of deepening on how to communicate arguments concerning the death penalty.

The first day, seminar was opened by the President of the Congolese Union Press (UNPC), Chantal Kalymbo and then Oliviero Toscani showed and explained his works concerning communication of social and human rights issues starting from the AD campaign "We, on death row" realized on death rows in the United States.

The second day of seminar was chaired by the Director of Social department of the RAI-TV (Italian radio and tv), Carlo Romeo and his team to explain how RAI realised and distributed public awareness campaign on death penalty in Italy and to provide also technical information.

The third day a group of two teachers from a company named Metawin hold a lesson on how the linguistic system that is articulated through the grammar of each language is not merely a reproduction tool to express ideas, but is itself a shape to ideas, being program and guide the activity of the mental individual. They proposed a series of exercises to develop five key Attitudes related to:

Planning: to develop leadership; Forecast: to develop critical thinking with respect to a problem; Perception: to develop the ability to promote content compared to an audience; Performance: to develop the capacity of organization of joint work; Scheduling: to develop the skills of directors of the establishment of a communication product.

The fourth day, participants were asked to propose a media campaign for the abolition of the death penalty. The means employed were projectors, computers and video cameras.

The method applied followed the imperative to learn by doing, the same method used in the Renaissance and the seminar provided an opportunity to conduct experimentation in groups, under the guidance of Oliviero Toscani, to create forms of communication which produces cultural innovation.

The conclusion was that a communication campaign against the death penalty in the Democratic Republic of Congo may find an ideal testimonial in Mohamed Ali. This because of the historic match which was held October 30, 1974, in Kinshasa, capital of the former Zaire, now Democratic Republic of Congo, when Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr. (alias Muhammad Ali) fought with the legendary George Foreman, holder belt world champion in the WBC heavyweight. "Ali, Buma ye!" (Ali, kill him!), shouted in unison, in Lingala, the huge crowd in attendance. Ali did not kill him, indeed. Offered his body to the opponent for eight times, always stuck on the ropes. But then still, Ali win the match. The slogan of this campaign has been identified in "Ali, do not kill him!" ("Ali, no Buma ye!" In Lingala)

After the seminar, participants (over 50 journalists, opinion makers photographers, technicians of TV, radio and print media Congolese from all the provinces of the DRC) spread an abolitionist message thanks to communication tools learned during the seminar. Because the journalists came from all provinces of the DRC, the message has been spread all over the country and not just in the media based in Kinshasa. It should be noted that a specific effect of the commitment to the abolition achieved through the efforts of Hands Off Cain it is seen within a few months, when 9 September 2009, the Government of the Republic democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has undertaken not to apply the death penalty pronounced against two Norwegians accused of murder and espionage.

Expected results are an increased awareness on reasons for the abolition that may consist in a positive attitude of the DRC Government towards the UNGA Resolution on the moratorium on executions, ratification of the Second Optional Protocol to the ICPR and abolition of the death penalty from the penal codes.
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