FIDH Members Mobilise against Capital Punishment at Seventh World Congress

Press release
en fa

(Brussels, Paris) FIDH and its member organisations from Algeria, Bangladesh, Belarus, Botswana, Indonesia, Mauritania, Morocco, Pakistan, Senegal, Thailand, and Uganda will participate in the Seventh World Congress Against the Death Penalty held from 26 February to 1 March in Brussels. Every three years, the Congress brings together decision makers, United Nations special rapporteurs, members of local and international organisations, and Sakharov and Nobel Peace Prize winners who fight for the abolition of capital punishment.

The Congress is organised by Together Against the Death Penalty (Ensemble contre la peine de mort, ECPM) in partnership with the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty (WCADP). FIDH has been a member of WCADP’s steering committee since its creation in 2002 and, together with its member organisations, advocates for the universal abolition of the death penalty.
In the context of this Congress, FIDH aims to call for the establishment of a moratorium on executions and the abolition of the death penalty for all crimes including through the universal ratification of treaties providing for abolition, such as the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

"Although pathways to abolition are country-specific, the exchange of experience, cooperation, and a spirit of solidarity create a greater momentum for global action towards the universal abolishment of the capital punishment. FIDH side events that will focus on certain retentionist countries, such as Belarus and Pakistan, are intended to contribute to this effort."

Florence Bellivier, FIDH Deputy Secretary General

Organised in partnership with Belarussian FIDH member league Viasna, a panel discussion “Why death penalty continues to be applied in Belarus?” will focus on violations related to the use of the death penalty in Belarus—the only European country that violates human rights at all stages of judicial proceeding when applying death penalty. The discussion, enriched by the viewpoints of relatives of executed convicts whose rights as victims’ family members were violated, will provide the Congress with a new perspective. Among the FIDH delegation are Lubov Kovaleva, the mother of 25-year-old Vladislav Kovalev, who was executed in 2011 after a trial that was widely described as a mockery of justice, and Aliaksandra Yakavitskaya, the daughter of a death row prisoner executed in 2016.
Another FIDH panel discussion, “Pakistan: how to get back on the road to abolition”, will focus on findings of a research mission on the death penalty in Pakistan, undertaken in November 2018 by FIDH and its member organization, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP). The event will highlight the impact of capital punishment on the poorest and most vulnerable in Pakistan and propose concrete solutions to get Pakistan back on the road to abolition.
In addition to its involvement in the World Congress, FIDH regularly works towards universal abolition through investigative missions, political advocacy, training of advocates, and publication of reports, including a 2015 study on the use of the death penalty for drug crimes in Asia. In 2016, FIDH and its Belarussian member organisation, Viasna, presented a report on the death penalty in Belarus, the last retentionist country in Europe. In 2017, FIDH published a report presenting new tools to raise awareness on the abolition of the death penalty in southern Africa: “Triggers for the abolition of the death penalty in Africa: a Southern African perspective”. FIDH’s actions at the continent level include advocacy for the adoption of a Draft Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights to support ongoing efforts for abolition across the continent. While in 1990, only Cape Verde had abolished the death penalty, today 40 of 55 African Union member states are abolitionist in law or practice. The latest example is the ratification of the Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR, which contributes to officially moving towards abolition in The Gambia, as illustrated in the video documentary “Gambia Has Decided”.
More than two-thirds of the world’s nations (134) have abolished capital punishment in law or practice. Nonetheless, half of the world’s population still live in countries where the death penalty is retained, and several countries have taken steps back. In recent years, Pakistan, Jordan, and Chad resumed executions in the name of the so-called fight against terrorism. In 2017, human rights groups recorded at least 993 executions in 23 countries. These very disturbing trends highlight the importance of events such as the World Congress and the World Day Against the Death Penalty.
The last United Nations General Assembly resolution calling for a universal moratorium on the death penalty was adopted in 2018 by 121 countries, up from 117 in 2016. Despite growing international momentum in favour of abolition, there is a pressing need to encourage the still reticent countries to fully abrogate capital punishment.

For more information please contact:
Catherine Absalom, cabsalom[at]; +32 2 609 44 23

Read more