FIDH calls for strong and coordinated action against the death penalty
Oslo, Paris, 20 June 2016 - FIDH and 14 of its member organisations from Algeria, Belarus, Botswana, Indonesia, Iran, Japan, Mauritania, Morocco, Senegal, Thailand, Tunisia, Vietnam, and Uganda will participate in the 6th World Congress Against the Death Penalty that will take place in Oslo from 21 to 23 June 2016. Among the FIDH delegation is Lubov Kovaleva the mother of a young man executed in Belarus.
The World Congress against the Death Penalty is organized every three years by Ensemble Contre la Peine de Mort (Together Against the Death Penalty – ECPM) in partnership with the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty (WCADP). FIDH has been a member of the WCADP Steering Committee since its creation in 2002.
Gathering political actors, legal experts and civil society representatives from around the world with the goal of discussing and elaborating national and international strategies for the universal abolition of death penalty, the event has greatly strengthened the global abolitionist movement.
In line with its consistent efforts against the application of the death penalty under any circumstances, FIDH contributed to the organisation of the 6th World Congress, and calls for strong and coordinated action against the death penalty.
“On the occasion of the 6th World Congress, FIDH and its member organisations reiterate their call for the universal abolition of this inhuman practice in accordance with international human rights standards. The World Congress should send out a clear message: that universal abolition of the death penalty is essential for justice to prevail in the world,” declared Karim Lahidji, FIDH President.
FIDH actively works towards the abolition of the death penalty through investigative missions, advocacy, training of advocates, and the publication of reports. In October 2015, FIDH published a study on the use of the death penalty for drug crimes in Asia, and is also actively engaged in a programme for the adoption of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights on the abolition of the death penalty in Africa.1 On the occasion of the 6th World Congress, FIDH and its member organisation in Belarus, VIASNA, will present its recently published English version of « Death Penalty in Belarus », a book on the death penalty in the last retentionist country in Europe. It describes the history of the death penalty in Belarus and highlights how it is applied without informing the families of those to be executed, and shares the poignant perspectives of mothers of executed persons, such as Lubov Kovaleva, who is attending the Congress to share the story of her fight for justice.
At the 6th World Congress FIDH will be represented by Florence Bellivier, FIDH Deputy Secretary General on the Death Penalty, Mabassa Fall, FIDH Representative before the African Union, and a total of 23 representatives from 14 of its member organisations and its International Secretariat.
FIDH representatives have been invited as panellists on the use of death penalty in Asia and in Belarus, on the use of the death penalty in the fight against terrorism in the MENA region, on the strengthening of regional mechanism against death penalty in Africa and mobilisation against the death penalty.
As of today, 140 States around the world are abolitionist in law or practice, as compared to only 16 countries in 1977. The global trend is clearly towards abolition, with the Republic of the Congo, Fiji, Madagascar, Mongolia, and Suriname becoming the latest countries to formally abolish the death penalty in law. In addition, a record number of 117 States voted in favor of the latest United Nations General Assembly Resolution on the establishment of a moratorium on executions in December 2014. However, in 2015 a record of 1998 people were sentenced to death across 61 countries, and 1634 prisoners were reportedly executed in 25 countries. Capital punishment is prevalent in Asia and the Middle East, with Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Iran responsible for 89 % of recorded executions in 2015. This calculation does not include China, where official statistics on the use of the death penalty are considered a state secret, but where it is believed the greatest number of executions takes place each year. China, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and the USA are the five biggest executioners in the world. In addition, in the last several years many countries have passed counterterrorism laws which have expanded the list of crimes punishable by death. Recently, the new President-elect of the Philippines announced his intent to bring back the death penalty, 29 years after its abolition was formally adopted into the country’s Constitution. And after several years of not having implemented the death penalty, Pakistan, Jordan, and Chad all recently resumed executions in the name of the so-called fight against terrorism. These worrying developments show how important events such as the 6th World Congress and World Day Against the Death Penalty (commemorated each year on October 10th) are in the struggle for equitable justice.