Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Death penalty violates fundamental human rights

Commissioner Kayitesi Zainabo Sylvie (Photo credit: ACHPR)
36 African countries maintain it in their laws

Capital punishment constitutes a violation of fundamental human rights, the Special Rapportuer on Death Penalty in Africa, Commissioner Kayitesi Zainabo Sylvie said on Saturday.

“The right to life under Article 4 of the African Charter and the right not to be subjected to any form of cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment and treatment under Article 5 undoubtedly discourage capital punishment,” she stressed.

36 African countries still retain the death penalty in their statute books, and while 22 countries have imposed moratorium on executions, only 17 countries have abolished the death penalty in Africa.

Sylvie was presenting her Report to the 53rd Ordinary Session of Africa Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) on April 13, 2013. The Session of the ACHPR is hosted by The Gambia from April 9-23.  

Commissioner Sylvie’s mandate is to monitor situations relating to extra-judicial, summary or arbitrary executions in all its ramifications, and gives advice to the Commission on urgent measures to be taken to address these issues.


She revealed that on October 26, 2012, she appealed to President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria to ensure that persons facing the death sentence are not executed and that the government continues to observe a moratorium on executions and to undertake consultations on the complete abolition of the death penalty in that country.

Her appeal followed information received which indicated that an execution order has been signed by the Governor of Edo State for the imminent execution of two prisoners on death row in Benin Prison, in Edo State.

Abolish death penalty

She urged countries that have taken steps towards the abolition of the death penalty to accelerate the process and for countries which have not yet started this process to do so.

Sylvie also calls on African countries that are yet to observe a moratorium on the death penalty to do so in line with the Resolutions of the African Commission and the United Nations. She also urges them to take measures to abolish the death penalty.

The home of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, The Gambia, announce late last year the restoration of a moratorium on the death penalty following the execution of nine death row inmates in August 2012.  

Written by Modou S. Joof

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