the death penalty

Abolition of the death penalty: a struggle still relevant in the 21st century


Still called “Capital Punishment”, the death penalty in the world in general and in the French-speaking world in particular is intended to be a maximum and most severe sanction that exists. Efforts in all directions are made daily so that retentionist states adhere to the idea of abolishing this criminal sanction which in any case is opposed to the right to respect for the human person, a right that is nevertheless fundamental. In this article, we will try to detail how the abolition of the death penalty is a necessity while setting out the difficulties encountered in this noble struggle.

Focus on important figures

According to report of the Swiss Section of the Political Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of La Francophonie, report presented by Mrs. Seydoux-Christe, Senator (Switzerland), more than two-thirds of the national States of the International Organization of La Francophonie (OIF), that is 56 of the 79 States, have already abolished the death penalty. However, 17 states maintain the death penalty in their legislation without necessarily applying it in practice and 06 states remain retentionist. We therefore note a strong desire on the part of States to abolish such a type of sanction. Nevertheless, great efforts remain to be made.

electric chair: death penalty
Death penalty: the electric chair and device

The death penalty: a violation of human rights

Is the human person no longer sacred?

Indeed, it should be pointed out that the right to respect for the human person is a universally fundamental right. However, capital punishment violates this right in practice. The person is sacred and inviolable and a penal sanction which initially aims to repress or even prevent an act can in no way and objectively not be a means of killings. Several reasons underlie the use of the death penalty by some states.

Terrorism, this alibi for the death penalty

In order to prevent or suppress terrorism, some States base their means on the use of the death penalty. However, this climate or this state of affairs, very often, on the contrary, favors terrorist violence. Moreover, according to the guide “Parliamentarians and the abolition of the death penalty”, the use of the death penalty in the fight against terrorism contributes to the creation of so-called Martyrs; it also reinforces terrorists' feeling that the government is brutal and repressive and also prevents more information on the activity of terrorist networks from being gathered.

Nevertheless, several states maintain the death penalty in their legislation without necessarily applying it. This is the case, for example, of Chad, which since 2017 has no longer provided for the death penalty in its penal code. However, it is maintained in a very special law on the repression of acts of terrorism, the only crimes that can be the subject of a death sentence.

sentenced to death

The death penalty: between legitimacy and humanistic common sense

If the efforts of several international bodies such as the OIF and many Non-Governmental Organizations like Amnesty International are to be welcomed, it should also be noted that the fight for the abolition of the death penalty, a salutary fight , must continue in order to bring the States which have not yet arrived to get in the race to do so.

It should therefore be mentioned that whatever is said, according to international law, the death penalty is legitimate. This constitutes, among other things, a brake on the noble struggle.

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Law

According to International Covenant on Civil and Political Law (ICCPR), the death penalty is authorized for the most serious crimes and under very strict conditions. As a result, we understand that, although limited, the death penalty under international law is still authorized.

It is worth remembering here that no judicial system in the world as reliable as it is is free from error, if at all it is humans who drive it. However, capital punishment by definition, if it is pronounced, it becomes irreversible. We would therefore be moving to the involuntary murder of innocent people, for a distant cause of negligence. Better still, over judicial decisions, there are heavy risks of biased use; of discrimination and even knowingly abusing the death penalty. All things going against international standards.

Minorities: designated victims?

In addition, Ms. Seydoux Christe's report reveals that from experience, the death penalty is applied disproportionately and abusively against the most vulnerable populations, namely: the poor, people suffering from mental illness, ethnic minorities or even on the basis of sexual orientation or religion. However, all men are equal before the law without discrimination of sex, race, religion or ethnicity.

Death penalty: the electric chair and device

The fight against the death penalty must continue

The abolition of the death penalty in the French-speaking area in particular and in the world in general is an obvious necessity, in this case in the French-speaking States with the main aim of respecting fundamental human rights. We need all our sons and daughters to build our States and make them develop.

Analysis of the statistics presented, the relationship between human rights and the death penalty, reveals that the latter is a sanction which is not only very severe, humiliating and degrading, but also can often interfere with another effective struggle. that against terrorism and violent crime. It must therefore objectively be abolished. Several efforts are being made to make this state of affairs understandable to reluctant States which still practice capital punishment for preventive or repressive reasons and for other possible reasons.

In this article, we have covered the issue. The death penalty must be abolished in all countries in order to respect human rights. But, what must be done so that the States which have already abolished the death penalty no longer reintroduce it in their legislation as claimed by certain parliaments of the Francophonie or of civil society, in particular, for cases of particularly violent crimes? ? Share your ideas with us in the comments and be sure to follow our news. You can also share this article in your networks.

Arnaud HADJO

A lawyer by training and member of the second term of the Youth Parliament of Benin, Arnaud is an activist in community development and passionate about issues of youth education.

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