"How I brought people together and called for Guinea to abolish the death
Souleymane Sow, 43, is a man with a mission. He has been volunteering with
Amnesty International since he was a student. Inspired to make a difference, he
returned to Guinea, set up a local group of Amnesty International volunteers
and got to work. Their aim? To promote the importance of human rights, educate
people on these issues and abolish the death penalty. Along with 34 NGOs, they
finally achieved their goal last year.
I've always been against the death penalty. So many people were killed during
the 1st regime - just because of their politics. Seeing people who'd lost their
parents made me want to take the fight for abolition further.
When I returned to Guinea, I formed a group of volunteers and we started
educating people about human rights. Elections took place in 2015 and a new
programme was launched, focusing on renewing all our laws in parliament.
I knew this was a key opportunity to speak out. I contacted Amnesty
International's regional office in Dakar, to see how we could lobby against the
death penalty. Once they were on board, we issued a statement about the changes
we wanted to see.
Momentum was building and 34 other NGOs decided to join our mission to abolish
the death penalty in Guinea. One by one, we arranged meetings with ministers
and other deputies, explaining why this awful practice had to be abolished. I
provided all the information they needed and we had open, honest discussions.
As the campaign ramped up, we made our voices heard. We distributed campaign
materials, such as stickers and T-Shirts, calling for an end to the death
penalty. I was invited to the Ministry of Justice to discuss the issue further,
putting across my argument, with the aim of changing their mindset - it was so
important to talk to people and explain why the death penalty needed to be
We listened to their ideas and questioned their reasoning, providing examples
and arguments about why the death penalty didn't have a place in today's
My colleagues and I lobbied against the death penalty every day for 5 months.
In 2016, Guinea's National Assembly voted in favour of a new criminal code
which removed the death sentence from the list of applicable penalties. Last
year, they did the same in the military court, too.
It was such an incredible achievement - and it showed the importance of people
power. It was the 1st time so many NGOs had come together to campaign on an
issue. People said they were happy with our work and they could see that change
Most of all, it inspired us to continue campaigning. There's still a lot of
work to do in Guinea, but having seen the impact we can have, I know much more
good can be achieved.
(source: Amnesty International)
Abolish death penalty, Amnesty International urges Kenya
Amnesty International on Thursday praised Kenya for limits it has placed on use
of the death penalty but urged it to join the 20 African countries that have
abolished capital punishment altogether.
"Kenya has taken some progressive steps toward abolition," said Oluwatosin
Popoola, Amnesty's lead advocate for eliminating the death penalty.
"But Kenya still has a way to go in reaching true abolition," Mr Popoola added
in an interview.
His comments coincided with release of an Amnesty report on the status of the
death penalty worldwide.
It hails sub-Saharan Africa as a "beacon of hope" in the global effort to end
The report highlights the Kenyan Supreme Court ruling last December that found
mandatory imposition of the death penalty to be unconstitutional.
But the court did not strike down the death penalty itself.
As a result, capital punishment remains lawful even though judges are no longer
required to order it in cases of murder and armed robbery.
Kenya also has not executed any death-row inmates since 1987.
How Dane Killed Nigerian Wife Alizee, Poisoned Daughter, Police Tell Court
Fresh facts have emerged on how rising Nigerian singer, Zainab Alizee, and her
3-year-old daughter, Petra, were murdered allegedly by her Danish husband,
Peter Nielsen, at their Banana Island residence, Ikoyi, Lagos, on Thursday.
Effiong Asuquo, a chief superintendent of police, told a Yaba Chief
Magistrates' Court, Lagos on Wednesday that the accused hit his wife's head on
the wall several times leading to her death and then proceeded to poison his
Mr. Asuquo, a prosecutor, alleged that the accused killed Zainab and her
daughter in the house.
Mr Nielsen allegedly committed the offences on Wednesday at his residence at
Block 4, Flat 17, Bella Vista Tower, Banana Island, Ikoyi.
"The accused who was always at loggerheads with his wife had hit her head on
the wall several times leading to her death; he also proceeded to poison his
"He had dragged their lifeless bodies under the gas to create the impression
that they suffocated to death as a result of a gas leakage," the prosecutor
The offences contravened Sections 223 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2015
and carries death penalty.
The case has been adjourned until May 8 pending advice of the state's director
of public prosecution.
The accused initially denied culpability in the murder, stating rather that he
woke up to find the bodies in the kitchen and that they could have been
suffocated by gas.
Meanwhile, Nollywood actress, Omoni Oboli, has called for justice over Alizee's
The actress advised Nigerians facing domestic violence to dump the marriage and
runaway with their children as nobody is worth dying for.
Over 600 Killed, 2,285 On Death Row In Nigeria – Amnesty
Amnesty International says at least 600 people were put to death and a total of
2,285 people currently on death row in Nigeria.
The international rights group revealed this in its 2017 global review of the
death penalty published on Thursday.
It said the figures showed that Nigeria imposed the highest number of death
sentences in the sub-Saharan Africa region in the previous year.
Amnesty International, however, commended other countries in the region who
made "great strides" in the global fight to abolish the death penalty, with a
significant decrease in death sentences being imposed.
According to the report, Guinea became the 20th state in sub-Saharan Africa to
abolish the death penalty for all crimes, while Kenya abolished the mandatory
death penalty for murder. Burkina Faso and Chad also took steps to repeal this
punishment with new or proposed laws.
"The progress in sub-Saharan Africa reinforced its position as a beacon of hope
for abolition. The leadership of countries in this region gives fresh hope that
the abolition of the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment is within
reach. Unfortunately, some states in Nigeria continue to expand the scope of
death sentences," Amnesty International’s Secretary General Salil Shetty said.
He noted that the number of people on death row in Nigeria is also the highest
in the region, although no executions were carried out in 2017.
The Amnesty International boss decried that death sentences in the country have
spiked massively over the past two years, with 171 and 527 death sentences
recorded in 2015 and 2016 respectively.
"With governments in the region continuing to take steps to reduce and repeal
the death penalty well into 2018, the isolation of the world's remaining
executing countries - such as Nigeria - could not be starker.
"Now that 20 countries in sub-Saharan Africa have abolished the death penalty
for all crimes, it is high time that the rest of the world follows their lead
and consigns this abhorrent punishment to the history books," Shetty advised.
According to him, the organisation recorded a drop in the number of executing
countries across Sub-Saharan Africa, from 5 in 2016 to 2 in 2017, with only
South Sudan and Somalia known to have carried out executions.
The Secretary-General noted that while Botswana and Sudan reportedly resumed
executions in 2018, such occurrence must not overshadow the positive steps
being taken by other countries across the region.
He disclosed that The Gambia has also signed an international treaty committing
the country not to carry out executions and moving to abolish the death
In furtherance of this, Shetty said The Gambian President, Adama Barrow,
established an official moratorium (temporary ban) on executions in February
Sub-Saharan Africa is beacon against death penalty
When Amnesty International started its global campaign against the death
penalty in 1977, the use of this cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment was
rife in sub-Saharan Africa.
Not one country in the region had abolished the punishment for all crimes.
40 years on, the region has witnessed remarkable progress against the death
Starting with Cape Verde, in 1981, some 20 countries have abolished the
punishment for all crimes.
Fifteen more can be considered abolitionist in practice because they have not
executed anyone over the past 10 years and are believed to have a policy or
established practice of not carrying out executions.
This has established sub-Saharan Africa as the beacon of hope in the struggle
for the worldwide abolition of the death penalty.
Globally, the use of the death penalty went down last year, according to a new
AI recorded 993 executions in 23 countries in 2017, a reduction of 4 % from
2016 (1,032) and down by 39 % from 2015 (1,634).
The reduction was due to decreases in Iran, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, which
had the highest numbers in 2016.
There were 2,591 death sentences in 53 countries last year, a significant
decrease from the record-high 3,117 in 2016.
The report also confirms the region as having made the most significant
progress towards abolition in 2017.
Generally, death sentences decreased from 1,086 in 17 countries in 2016 to 878
in 15 countries in 2017.
There was a drop in the number of executing countries from 5 in 2016 to 2 in
2017 with Somalia and South Sudan the only ones known to have carried them out.
The Gambia has, within months, under new President Adama Barrow changed its
attitude towards the death penalty.
Notorious for its staunch support for the death penalty under former President
Yahya Jammeh, it has suddenly become a shining regional example of progress
In a series of moves, The Gambia has shown that it is committed to the
abolition of the death penalty: President Barrow has pardoned people under
sentence of death; on September 2017, the country signed the international
treaty that commits state parties not to carry out executions and to take all
necessary steps to abolish the death penalty; and, just a few weeks ago, the
president announced an official moratorium on executions.
As 2017 came to a close, Guinea became the 20th sub-Saharan African country to
abolish the death penalty for all crimes - a remarkable feat for a country
which, only 2 years ago, was considered retentionist.
Through reforms that began in 2016, Guinea expunged the death penalty from its
First, it removed the use of death sentences as a punishment in its criminal
Secondly, last year, it deleted the death penalty provisions from its military
justice law, then the remaining legislation with that provision.
In Chad, a new law, which abolished the death penalty except for terrorism,
came into force in 2017.
And in Burkina Faso, a provision outlawing the death penalty completely was
included in proposals to revise the Constitution.
In addition, Kenya’s Supreme Court declared the mandatory use of the death
penalty for murder illegal.
The effect of this is that judges in murder cases now have discretion not to
impose the death sentence.
The apex court ordered cases of people who were given mandatory death
sentences, following convictions for murder, to be reconsidered with a view to
determining new sentences.
The sentences of these condemned convicts are likely to be replaced with less
The decision has put Kenya in the same league as other countries in the region,
Uganda and Malawi.
Nevertheless, it is not over yet. The abolitionist movement in sub-Saharan
Africa, for now, cannot declare total victory against the death penalty.
This inhuman punishment, though dying slowly, is still alive and kicking.
For instance, while only Somalia and South Sudan are known to have carried out
executions in 2017, Botswana and Sudan have already resumed executions this
Also, the very high number of people under death sentence in Nigeria is
By the end of last year, the courts in Nigeria had sentenced a staggering 621
people to death and the country had some 2,285 people on death row - both being
the highest figures in the sub-Saharan Africa region.
However, despite these concerns, victory against the death penalty in the
region remains an attainable goal.
(source: Mr Popoola is Amnesty International’s advocate/adviser on the death
A service courtesy of Washburn University School of Law www.washburnlaw.edu
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