MONROVIA – Rescue Alternatives Liberia (RAL), a national human rights organization is calling on the Liberian Government to ensure the abolition of the death penalty as a nation.
The Republic of Liberia deposited the instrument of accession to the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) in September 2005, meaning that this international treaty has been ratified.
This ratification, however, has yet to be fulfilled on the domestic level. Under this Protocol, the Republic of Liberia is required to impose a moratorium on executions and amend its laws to eliminate the death penalty.
Furthermore, during the 3rd cycle of the Universal Periodic Review of the Republic of Liberia, Liberia accepted the recommendations to abolish the death penalty in its national legislation.
As Liberia is a state party to the Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR, an international obligation arises to ensure that no one within the jurisdiction shall be executed and take all necessary measures to abolish the death penalty within the jurisdiction.
Speaking Tuesday at a one-day forum on the Abolition of Death Penalty using Liberia’s Accepted Universal Periodic Review (UPR), supported by World Coalition Against Death Penalty, the National Program Coordinator of Rescue Alternatives Liberia, Sam M. Nimely said the program is the beginning of the push for the abolition of death penalty in the country.
The forum was attended by community members, civil society organizations, students, and international partners among others.
Mr. Nimely said “We want to use this opportunity to appeal to our lawmakers to see reason and pass legislation that will abolish death penalty. Also, members of the national legislature need to have access to all international human rights instruments, especially the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) recommendations which is a mother document to all instruments so that they can make an informed decision. We will therefore, distribute USB keys that contain all these documents so that our legislators and others will have the electronic version of the UPR recommendations. These USB keys were sent to us by our partner; The World Coalition Against the Death Penalty.” Nimely said.
He further said “We will engage our partners including the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the EU for funding support in order to popularize the UPR recommendations by taking the instrument to various learning institutions for students, civil society members, print and electronic media, community residents and others in the country to enable citizens access documents the government obligated the country to as we need to honor our obligations before Liberia next review by the UN Human Rights Council.”
Meanwhile, the organization is urging the Liberian Government to strengthen prisons so that when someone is sentenced for life, such person will be able to serve the terms; saying “Please note that when you are sentenced for life, you are living dead. We will not encourage presidential clemency to be extended to people who kill others, rapists; armed robbers, drugs dealers and those involved in human Trafficking.”
Also speaking as guest speaker, European Union Ambassador to Liberia, Laurent Delahousse committed the European Union to work closely with the Liberian Government and citizens of Liberia in supporting the decision to abolish death penalty and make Liberia the 24th countries to abolish the death penalty.
“We encourage Liberia to abolish death penalty. We did it for others and we will be happy if the government of Liberia and the people of Liberia can take this decision. In EU, we are very serious about that and to be a member; you have to abolish the death penalty. It is horrible to kill another human. Let’s continue to talk on this issue at the community level, schools and everywhere. If you commit crime, you pay for it by being removed from society and go to jail, but not to take the chance of killing someone,” Ambassador Laurent Delahousse said.
For his part, the Country Representative of OHCHR, Dr. Uchenna Emelonye reminded the participants that Death penalty is against the culture of Africa, saying Africans find solutions to issues and not death penalty.
‘We should not look at such law and we should ask ourselves why Africa or Liberia struggle to abolish the law that was inherited. In the last six years, no court in Liberia has imposed death penalty and we are making progress. The death penalty has created errors and the error rate of death penalty is very high even in developed countries and death penalty is not good for us as a country, as people, and continent. I hope in my tenure in Liberia, the death penalty will be abolished in Liberia,” Dr. Uchenna Emelonye added.
Also speaking, French Ambassador Michael Roux, representatives from Ministry of Justice, ACAT-Liberia commended RAL for the forum and pledged their unflinching support to see the abolition of the death penalty in Liberia.