Actions in Support of the UN Resolution for a Moratorium on Executions With a View to Abolition of Death Penalty in Africa

Project location: VARIOUS COUNTRIES
Project start date: August 2012 - Project end date: January 2013
Project number: 2012-084
Beneficiary: Nessuno Tocchi Caino


This project aims to increase support to the new Resolution on moratorium on executions at the UNGA 2012, to implement the Resolution in the African continent and to collect and disseminate information on the death penalty issue.
In 2011 and in the first six months of 2012, significant political and legislative steps towards abolition or at least positive signs, such as collective commutations of capital punishment, as documented by the Hands off Cain Report on the death penalty worldwide, have been seen in numerous countries. Among these positive steps and signs we should mention the sub-regional Conference held on 13 and 14 October 2011 in Rwanda (Kigali) where high institutionals coming from 20 countries of the south, central and east Africa urged all African States to “co-sponsor and vote in favour of the Resolution calling for a worldwide moratorium on executions at the 2012 UN General Assembly” (further information ).
This was mainly significant for those countries who are still considered retentionist such as Zimbabwe, Tchad, Central African Republic and Swaziland. 
However, such an engagement need a follow up in view of the next UNGA vote. The proposed action aims to have meetings with local Governments, Parliaments and civil society groups to spread information on the positive international abolitionist trend and to call for a positive position in New York on the Resolution. Missions will be also occasion to visit death row inmates and to document, through pictures and testimonies, this legacy of the past.
If after the proposed missions, more countries decide to support the Resolution during the next 67the session of the UNGA and public opinion is more informed on the worldwide situation on the death penalty, the political and moral call for abolition becomes stronger and it will be easier for the whole abolitionist movement to ask for moratorium on executions and abolition of death penalty.
Concerning the relation with Nando Peretti Foundation’s goals, declaration by the UNGA in its resolutions that “a moratorium on the use of the death penalty contributes to respect for human dignity and to the enhancement and progressive development of human rights” clearly relates our initiatives with promotion of human and civil rights.
The proposed action will offer an occasion also to enhance and protect the rights of those in jail and to address the question of respect for human rights and strengthening of rule of law. 

With this project, Hands off Cain will support Zimbabwe, Tchad, Central African Republic and Sierra Leone to get more information on the positive trend concerning abolition of the death penalty worldwide so that these countries may vote in favour or at least abstain on the Resolution calling for a universal moratorium on executions at the next UNGA and may also change their internal rules concerning death penalty.
To this regard an Annual Report on the death penalty worldwide will be realised as main instrument to spread knowledge on the positive abolitionist trend.
Missions will then be carried out to these retentionist countries who, during the Conference organised by Hands off Cain and the Government of Rwanda in Kigali in October 2011, expressed willingness to do steps towards abolition. During missions, meetings will be requested with representatives of local Governments, Parliament and civil society groups in order to raise awareness among the key decision makers and the public opinion on the abolition of the death penalty and on alternative policies to the death penalty to encourage acts to completely abolish capital punishment from internal law, to support abolition at international level and improve conditions of those in jail.
Considering that the abolition contributes to the progressive development of human rights, the action is also relevant to strengthen management of high institutional and civil society of other human rights and democracy issues.
These are the main reasons for choosing target countries and the main actions that Hands off Cain intend to carry out there. 
Zimbabwe: in 2012, for the ninth consecutive year, Zimbabwe has not carried out executions. Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's former opposition Movement for Democratic Change party has voiced its disapproval of hanging. At the Inter-African conference against the death penalty organized by Hands Off Cain and held in Kigali on 13 and 14 October 2011, the Speaker of Parliament, Lovemore Moyo, expressed his full support to the abolitionist instances expressed during the conference, and the need to turn on all the internal mechanisms that can lead to achieve this goal. In July 2012 the Select Committee of Parliament on the New Constitution (COPAC), established in April 2009 to spearhead the Constitution-making process in the country, announced that the new draft constitution was complete and signed by all the party negotiators to the 2007 Global Political Agreement (i.e. the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front and the two Movement for Democratic Change formations) and members of COPAC's management committee. Zimbabwe’s new draft constitution has abolished the death sentence for women and those under the age of 21 and above 70 years.
A mission to Zimbabwe will be carried out to meet with the highest institutional such as President Morgan Tsvangirai, Minister for Constitutional Affairs and to held parliamentary hearing before Foreign Affairs Committee, Human Rights Committee and Justice Committee in order to convince Zimbabwe to move from a vote against at the UNGA on the Resolution for a moratorium to a vote in favour or, at least, to abstention and to strengthen the internal process towards the abolition of the death penalty and to push for the total removal of the death penalty in the Constitution.
Central African Republic: the last execution took place in January 1981, when six high ranking government officials were executed by firing squad. At the Inter-African conference against the death penalty organized by Hands Off Cain and held in Kigali on 13 and 14 October 2011, the Justice Minister of Central African Republic, Firmin Findiro, has officially announced its commitment to engage in the abolitionist process in his country.
A mission to Central African Republic will be carried out to meet with the highest institutional Prime Minister, Minister of Justice and minister for Foreign Affairs and to held parliamentary hearing in order to deliver copies of the Annual report on the death penalty worldwide and to raise awareness among the key decision makers and the public opinion on the abolition of the death penalty and on alternative policies to the death penalty to accelerate the internal process towards the abolition of the death penalty and gain the support of the country to the new UNGA Resolution on Moratorium on Executions so that Central African Republic may move from abstention to a vote in favour. A visit to death row will be requested in order to raise attention also on conditions of those in jail.
Chad: had not executed anyone since 1991, but, in the space of three days in 2003, nine people were put to death. No executions were registered in the country since then. At the Inter-African conference against the death penalty organized by Hands Off Cain and held in Kigali on 13 and 14 October 2011, the Vice President of the Parliament, Mahamadou Kourtou, announced the engagement of the Parliament of Chad for promoting public awareness campaigns and for asking the Government to support the resolution calling for a moratorium with a view to the abolition at the UNGA 2012.
A mission carried out in Chad by Hands Off Cain aims to meet highest institutional and to held Parliamentarian hearing to accelerate the internal process towards the abolition of the death penalty or at least the introduction of a legal moratorium on executions and gain the support of the country to the new UNGA Resolution on Moratorium on Executions moving from absent to a vote in favour. A visit to death row will be requested in order to raise attention also on conditions of those in jail.
Sierra Leone: in April 2011, the President E. Koroma commuted all death sentences to life imprisonment and five death row prisoners were given a pardon. On 13 September 2011, the delegation of Sierra Leone announced in an addendum to the Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) accepting "in principle and subject to constitutional review" fifteen recommendations calling to abolish the death penalty. On 5 May 2011, in the framework of the UPR, Sierra Leone was recommended to abolish the death penalty, accede to the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and establish a de jure moratorium on the application of the death penalty aimed at its definitive abolition. The delegation explained that those recommendations were accepted "in principle" and "subject to constitutional review". Attorney-General and Justice Minister Franklyn Bai Kargbo said the question of the abolition of the death penalty was on the legislative agenda of the Government. It had been extensively discussed during the Constitutional Review Process, which will continue after the 2012 elections.
The “abolitionist of the year 2012” prize, promoted by Hands off Cain to recognize the individual who has demonstrated, above all others, an exceptional commitment to abolishing the death penalty, is conferred this year upon the President of Sierra Leone Ernest Bai Koroma, and the award will be presented to him in Freetown n October 2012 in occasion of the worldwide day against the death penalty.
This will be an occasion to meet highest institutional and to held Parliamentarian hearing to accelerate the internal process towards the abolition of the death penalty or at least the introduction of a legal moratorium on executions and gain the support of the country to the new UNGA Resolution on Moratorium on Executions moving from abstention to a vote in favour. A visit to death row will be requested in order to raise attention also on conditions of those in jail.

Expected results may be in Zimbabwe, a move from a vote against at the UNGA on the Resolution for a moratorium to a vote in favour or, at least, to abstention; adoption of a legal moratorium in the country and a total removal of the death penalty in the Constitution. Also jail conditions may be improved.
Central African Republic may move from abstention to a vote in favour to the new UNGA Resolution on Moratorium on Executions so that may. A visit to death row may raise attention also on conditions of those in jail.
Chad may move from absent to a vote in favour on the new UNGA Resolution on Moratorium on Executions. A visit to death row may raise attention also on conditions of those in jail.
Expected results in Sierra Leone are a move from abstention to a vote in favour on the UNGA Resolution, the abolition of the death penalty in the country with a general improvement of conditions of those in jail.
Outcomes are publication of the Annual Report on the death penalty and, if visits to death row are allowed pictures of those sentenced to death and evidences of jail conditions may be collected.

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