The Central African Republic has become the 24th African country, and the 109th country globally to abolish the death penalty.
The country’s National Assembly on Friday, May 27, adopted by acclamation the law abolishing corporal punishment that is expected to be signed into law by President Faustin Archange Touadéra.
“The National Assembly has adopted by acclamation the law abolishing the death penalty in the Central African Republic,” said Simplice Mathieu Sarandji, the speaker of the National Assembly against thunderous applause.
Rights group Amnesty International has welcomed the development, saying in a tweet that it was “good news.”
“We invite the President (…) to promulgate this law”. “We are very satisfied, but aware that we will have to raise awareness among the population,” Bruno Gbiegba, a lawyer and coordinator of advocacy for the abolition of the death penalty in Central Africa told AFP.
The Central African Republic is the world’s poorest country, according to the United Nations. It has been embroiled in conflict since 2013, although fighting has significantly abated since 2018.
The deputy National Assembly Speaker, Ghislain Junior Mordjim said the last execution dates back to 1981.
The country has thus joined the growing number of countries saying no to capital punishment including Chad in 2020 and Sierra Leon in 2021.
In Zambia, President Hakainde Hichilema has asked Parliament to “consider removing the death penalty from the laws of Zambia,” in a move welcomed by Amnesty International which also praised the President for commuting the sentences of 30 prisoners on death row.
While these generally acclaimed developments are happening, some countries are actively pursuing the death penalty. These include Egypt, Botswana, Somalia, Sudan, and South Sudan.
In 2014, Cameroon upheld the death penalty especially for terrorism-related offences, although the country observes a moratorium on the carrying out of actual executions.
“The death penalty is a cruel and inhuman punishment that never proved to be efficient in the objectives it pursues and our commitment to its universal abolishment makes us shocked each time it is used,” said Corentin Mançois, FIACAT’s Death Penalty Program Officer.
FIACAT is the International Federation of ACATs (Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture.)