Central African Republic: IBAHRI welcomes abolition of the death penalty
Image credit: UNCTAD, CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons
The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) commends the Central African Republic (CAR) and President Faustin-Archange Touadéra (pictured) for passing Law 22.011, formally eradicating the death penalty in the country following a de facto moratorium since 1981.
IBAHRI Co-Chair, and Immediate Past Secretary General of the Swedish Bar Association, Anne Ramberg Dr Jur hc, commented: ‘There is no place for the death penalty in the 21st century. The IBAHRI wholeheartedly welcomes the Central African Republic joining the international abolitionist community. We applaud President Touadéra’s commitment to the pledge he made during his inaugural speech for his second term in office on 31 March 2021 to abolish the death penalty in law. The CAR has taken a necessary and indisputable step to demonstrate respect for the lives, dignity and human rights of its citizens.’
Article 1 of Law 22.011 reads that ‘the death penalty is abrogated in the Central African Republic’. Article 2 specifies that ‘the crimes sanctioned with capital punishment, are punished with life forced labour’.
Although the adoption of Law 22.011, on 27 June 2022, abrogating the death penalty is a major step forward, its application requires further clarification regarding the imposition of life forced labour sentences.
While the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966) does not ‘preclude, in countries where imprisonment with hard labour may be imposed as a punishment for a crime, the performance of hard labour in pursuance of a sentence to such punishment by a competent court’ (Article 8(3)(b)), ‘[a]ll persons deprived of their liberty shall be treated with humanity and respect for the inherent dignity of the human person’ (Article 10(1)) and ‘[n]o one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment’ (Article 7).
The United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (the Mandela Rules) (2015) state, inter alia:
- ‘Sentenced prisoners shall have the opportunity to work and/or to actively participate in their rehabilitation…’ (Rule 96(1), emphasis added)
- ‘Sufficient work of a useful nature shall be provided to keep prisoners actively employed for a normal working day.’ (Rule 96(2))
- ‘Prison labour must not be of an afflictive nature.’ (Rule 97(1))
- ‘Prisoners shall not be held in slavery or servitude.’ (Rule 97(2))
- ‘The precautions laid down to protect the safety and health of free workers shall be equally observed in prisons.’ (Rule 101)
- ‘The hours so fixed shall leave one rest day a week and sufficient time for education and other activities required as part of the treatment and rehabilitation of prisoners.’ (Rule 102(2))
- ‘There shall be a system of equitable remuneration of the work of prisoners.’ (Rule 103)
IBAHRI Co-Chair Mark Stephens CBE said: ‘In addition to applauding the CAR on abolishing the death penalty, we encourage the government to review and amend national criminal law and procedural codes without delay to reflect the abolition and to ensure full compliance with international human rights law, standards, and norms in both law and practice within the administration of justice. We also urge the government to consolidate its commitment to abolition by ratifying the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.’
The CAR is the 24th country in Africa to abolish the death penalty, after Chad in 2020 and Sierra Leone in 2021, and it is the 111th country worldwide, according to the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty – an alliance of more than 160 non-governmental organisations (NGOs), bar associations, local authorities and unions working to eliminate capital punishment for all crimes. President Touadéra promulgated the six-article law on 27 June 2022, following the National Assembly’s adoption of it on 27 May 2022.
Notes to the Editor
- On 15 May 2008, the IBAHRI Council adopted its Resolution on the Abolition of the Death Penalty, which considers, inter alia, the clear trend towards viewing the death penalty as a breach of international human rights standards, as well as committing the IBAHRI to actively promoting the abolition of the death penalty.
- Click here to find out more about the IBAHRI’s work on the abolition of the death penalty.
- Related material:
- IBAHRI welcomes the abolition of the death penalty in Kazakhstan (23 June 2022)
- IBAHRI applauds Papua New Guinea’s decision to abolish the death penalty (22 February 2022)
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