Open letter to Abdoulaye Wade: Senegal undertakes to abolish death penalty

Press release
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The FIDH welcomes your solemn declaration on July 15, 2004 during the Cabinet meeting asking for the abolition of death penalty in Senegal. This declaration, which has been approved unanimously by all the members of your government, meets the requests we addressed to you in the past and represents a significant progress.

The FIDH calls upon the Senegalese National Assembly to adopt the law relating to this matter as soon as possible.

The abolition of death penalty is a significant step towards the harmonization in domestic law of the provisions of the Statute of the International criminal Court (ICC) that your country was the first to ratify. This harmonization is essential; otherwise Senegal will not be able to cooperate with the Court neither entirely exercise the complementarity principle between the ICC and the national courts. In this respect, the FIDH reiterates its disappointment regarding the signature by Senegal of an "immunity" agreement with the United States and asks you to denounce this agreement, thus showing your unreserved attachment to the fight against the impunity of the most serious crimes.

The announcement of the abolition of death penalty in Senegal is made at a time when the FIDH highly worries about the repeated breaches of the fundamental liberties in the country, notably of the freedom of expression (see press release dated 07/09/04, "pression sur un journaliste à Dakar: une nouvelle atteinte à la liberté d’expression au Sénégal"). In this respect, the FIDH welcomes your recent statements about the abrogation of article 80 of the Senegalese criminal code, which was a highly repressive "catch-all article" on which the domestic courts recently based themselves to charge several journalists, notably Mr Madiambal, with "dissemination of false news" and with "dissemination of news likely to cause serious political troubles".

The FIDH asks that the suppression of the article 80 be part of the draft reform of the criminal code presently drafted by a governmental commission and that this reform be adopted as soon as possible by the National assembly.

Thank you in advance for the attention you will pay to the present document,

Yours faithfully

Sidiki Kaba

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