As part of activities marking the 17th anniversary of the World Day against the Death Penalty, Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture (ACAT-Liberia) and the Rescue Alternatives Liberia (RAL) have called on the Liberian government to repeal the clause within the Penal Code that talks about death penalty.
The two human rights organizations reminded the government that the country had acceded to the optional protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR); adopted and opened for signature, ratification and accession by UN General Assembly Resolution 2200A (XXI) of December 16, 1966 entry into force March 23,1976 in accordance with Article 49, which calls for the abolition of the death penalty in 2005, and increased the number of crimes punishable by the death penalty in its legislation in 2008.
In a release, the organizations recounted the last execution in the country that took place in 2000, but lamented that the death sentences are still handed down by the court. They also expressed dismay that Liberia is the only country in the world to have gone backwards after accession to the United Nations protocol abolishing the death penalty.
ACAT-Liberia and RAL in line with their action plans through a press release, further reminded the government of its responsibility to ensure it signed and ratified UNCAT and OPCAT, Operations to the United Nations Convention against Torture (UNCAT) are criminalized, and domesticated within the confines of the Liberian Law.
This includes respect for human rights standards; a centerpiece for cooperation related to human rights and torture in particular, as related to the procedural rights of suspects, and accused persons, and provide data on all places of detention, and on all persons in detention in their respective jurisdictions.
“Steps should also be taken to ensure that the data reflects detainees’ age, gender, vulnerabilities and other relevant information about socio-demographic and legal statuses,” the two organizations said in a release.
The World Day Against the Death Penalty is celebrated on October 10 every year, but the organizations, in collaboration with partners including the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty, FIACAT, Swedish Embassy, Independent National Commission on Human Rights (INCHR), Office of High Commissioner on Human Rights (OHCHR), Liberia National Bar Association (LNBA), and administration of the Louis Arthur Grimes School of Law, will now celebrate the day on October 29, 2019 in Monrovia.
The Day is set aside to advocate for the abolition of the death penalty, and to raise awareness of the conditions and the circumstances which affect prisoners with death sentences.
The focus of this year’s celebration is, “Children: Unseen Victims of Death Penalty.” Frequently forgotten, children of parents sentenced to death or executed carry a heavy emotional and psychological burden that can amount to the violation of their human rights.
This trauma can occur at any, and all stages of the capital punishment of a parent: arrest trial, sentencing, death row stays, execution dates, execution itself, and its aftermath.
The repeated cycles of hope and disappointment that can accompany all of these stages can have a long-term impact, occasionally well into adulthood.