6th World Congress Against the Death Penalty
Oslo, 23 June 2016
The participants in the 6th World Congress Against the Death Penalty, organised in Oslo (Norway) from 21 to 23 June 2016 by the organisation Ensemble Contre la Peine de Mort(ECPM) under the sponsorship of Norway, Australia and France, and in partnership with the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty, hereby
ADOPT the present Declaration following three days of intense debates, exchanges of experiences, testimonies, films;
- that the abolitionist movement is expanding in a world where almost 3/4 of countries have abolished the death penalty in law or in practice; - that many abolitionist states and intergovernmental organisations joined the international abolitionist movement and that retentionist states at the congress also expressed their interest in the movement;
- that since the Madrid World Congress in 2013, 6 countries have abolished the death penalty for all crimes Madagascar, Mongolia, Nauru, Fiji, the Republic of Congo, and Surinam; that the trend toward abolition in the USA continues;
- that the abolitionist movement continues to grow and diversify, with the 158 ,member-strong World Coalition Against the Death Penalty, and states, regional and national coalitions, uniting organisations and actors from civil society, parliamentarian networks, academic networks, national human rights institutions, businesses and unions, and journalists, all joining forces to promote the abolition of the death penalty;
- that some abolitionist states are integrating the question of universal abolition into their international relations policies;
- that ties are being strengthened among actors from civil society and intergovernmental, regional, and international organisations with the aim of establishing or reinforcing the state of law;
- that major economic international actors such as Pfizer or Richard Branson (founder of the Virgin group) are taking a public stance against the death penalty;
- that there are positive announcements like those of the Vice-Ministers of Justice of the Democratic Republic of Congo and Mongolia that they will vote for the moratorium at the United Nations next December;
- that the realisation of the scope and the seriousness of the damage caused by the death penalty to the families and loved ones of the condemned, of the victims, and of other members of society.
- that the re-emergence of terrorist violence on a global scale is used as a pretext by certain governments such as Egypt, to justify the retention of the death penalty to supress opposition movements;
- that according to Amnesty International; 58 countries and territories retain the death penalty, and often apply it in an arbitrary manner;
- that in 2015, 1634 persons were executed in the world, notably in Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, the United States, although these statistics do not include the unknown number of people executed in China;
- that the retention of the death penalty for drug trafficking is in total contradiction to UNODC recommendations and to findings established during the UNGASS in April 2016 in New York. Indeed, UN member states agreed on the failure of “war on drugs” policies, founded solely on a repressive vision;
- that certain countries have resumed executions after lengthy moratoriums, such as Indonesia, Pakistan or Chad;
- that the death penalty is still applied to juvenile offenders and people with intellectual disabilities; that it is applied in a discriminatory manner according to ethnic, social, national or religious origin, skin colour, and sexual orientation;
- that more often than not, as a direct consequence of their status, death row prisoners often suffer deplorable incarceration conditions which violate human dignity and often represent an inhuman and degrading treatment,.
UNDERLINING THE NECESSITY TO TAKE FURTHER SIGNIFICANT STEPS TOWARDS THE COMPLETE AND UNIVERSAL ABOLITION OF THE DEATH PENALTY,
WE CALL UPON:
Intergovernmental Organisations and International Organisations:
- to continue and intensify their cooperation with states and civil society to promote the universal abolition of the death penalty;
- to integrate issues relating to the retention of the death penalty in the discussions between UNODC and all stakeholders;
- to systematically integrate, whenever relevant, the death penalty in the work done by UN special rapporteurs, especially on terrorism, extrajudicial executions, torture, migrants, and extreme poverty;
- to adopt; as soon as possible, regional instruments, such as the Additional Protocol to the African Charter of Human and People’s Rights on abolition of the death penalty;
States present at the Oslo Congress:
- to stand by the commitments made during the congress especially the commitment of Guinea to promulgate a Penal Code without the death penalty on 1 July 2016;
Retentionist states to commit:
- to drastically reduce the scope of crimes punishable by death in their legislation and, in the immediate future, to abolish the mandatory death penalty where it exists and discuss alternative solutions which recognise each person’s ability to make amends;
-to respect the International Convention on the Rights of Children, and to renounce the use of the death penalty for minors and those who were minors at the time of the commission of the crime;
- to collect and publish regular and reliable and independent information on the manner in which they apply the death penalty and on the state of public opinion on the death penalty and on alternative punishments;
- to take the path toward the abolition of capital punishment by implementing a moratorium on death sentences and executions, in compliance with the resolution for a moratorium on the use of the death penalty voted by the General Assembly of the United Nations since 2007, and to follow the 81 countries that have already ratified the UN Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights;
- to guarantee competent counsel for indigent capital defendants Abolitionist states:
- to make guarantees, beyond speeches, regarding concrete and visible actions in favour of the universal abolition of the death penalty, specifically by imposing consequences for the violation of these guarantees upon the resumption or the continuation of their diplomatic and economic relations with retentionist countries;
- to sign and ratify the UN Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights;
- to make the financial aid they grant to the international war on drug trafficking conditional upon the non-application of capital punishment
- to promote and guarantee respect for fundamental human rights in the struggle against terrorism, including renunciation of the death penalty
- to support actors in civil society working in favour of abolition;
- vote in favour of the UNGASS resolution calling for a universal moratorium on capital punishment in 2016.
- from across the world to gather in regional, national, and international networks to carry the abolitionist debate into the heart of retentionist parliaments;
- from abolitionist states to help their colleagues from retentionist states to propose abolitionist bills.
National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs):
- to systematically add questions on the death penalty to their agendas and to encourage their states to abolish the death penalty vote in favour of the UNGASS resolution calling for a universal moratorium on capital punishment in 2016..
In retentionist countries,
- lawyers to seek further training in order to better defend clients facing the death penalty;
- prosecutors not to ask for imposition of the death penalty;
- judges to exercise their power of discretion to not impose any death sentences and to encourage non-professional juries to do the same.
Economic and cultural actors:
- to strengthen their commitment in order to vigorously proclaim that the application of an archaic and degrading punishment is harmful to the harmonious development of the economy, tourism, and cultural exchanges.
Abolitionist actors from civil society:
- to act in unison, by joining the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty, to strengthen abolitionist collaborations, or other organisations such as the International Network of Universities Against the Death Penalty;
- carry out awareness-raising and educational campaigns on abolition for the public, political decision-makers, and students, joining the international network for education and participating in the annual World Day Against the Death Penalty on 10th October and for the “Cities for Life” on 30th November.
23 June 2016