“Ivorian public opinion is not in favour of the death penalty” – Interview with Namizata Sangaré

7 April 2018

The Côte d’Ivoire National Human Rights Commission (Commission Nationale des Droits de l’Homme de Côte d’Ivoire or CNDHCI) is our partner at the African Congress Against the Death Penalty which is being held on 9 and 10 April. Its President, Mrs Namizata Sangaré, has answered our questions.

What is the role of the CNDHCI?

The CNDHCI was created in 2012. It is an independent body with legal status and financial autonomy. Its mandate is to perform the roles of dialogue, consultation, assessment and proposition to promote, protect and defend human rights. However, like human rights institutions the CNDHCI also focuses on prevention with regard to human rights violations.

Why did you decide to take part in ECPM’s Congress?

Our participation in this 3rd Regional Congress is part of the assistance we provide to ECPM with regard to its work to promote abolition of the death penalty across the world and, similarly, continue advocacy in support of ratification by the Ivorian authorities of the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (OP2). Such ratification will enable Côte d’Ivoire, an abolitionist country, to irreversibly finalise and reaffirm its solemn commitment to abolishing the death penalty before the international community.

What support have you received within the framework of organisation of the Congress?

The CNDHCI has received institutional support from the State of Côte d’Ivoire which was very keen to host this international event on Ivorian soil. To that effect, we would like to acknowledge the involvement and efforts of the highest authorities, particularly the National Assembly, the Foreign Affairs Ministry and the Justice and Human Rights Ministry.

What does public opinion say about the death penalty?

The CNDHCI does not have an opinion poll on the issue of the death penalty as such. However, in the light of the Constitution of 8 November 2016 which sanctioned abolition of the death penalty and received 93.42% of votes in favour during the constitutional referendum of 30 October 2016, and the mobilisation of civil society and human rights organisations which have campaigned for abolition of the death penalty in Côte d’Ivoire, we can state that Ivorian public opinion, even African public opinion generally, is not in favour of the death penalty. The very high trend of abolitionist countries in Africa over the last few years is strong evidence of such an unfavourable opinion.

How do you see the death penalty in Africa in ten (10) years time?

You know, no doubt, that of the 55 member states of the African Union, 4/5 of them no longer practice the death penalty and, over the last 10 years, only ten countries have carried out executions. More African countries abolish the death penalty every year: Guinea in 2016, Congo and Madagascar in 2015, Benin in 2012, Gabon in 2010, etc. Therefore, the greatest momentum towards abolition is to be found in Africa. We strongly hope that, in the next 10 years, the death penalty will be entirely abolished in Africa and will disappear from legislation in our States.

What are the next steps for Côte d’Ivoire with regard to abolition of the death penalty?

The next step for Côte d’Ivoire with regard to abolition of the death penalty is ratification of the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (OP2).

The CNDHCI, via its monitoring role, will continue to advocate in that direction because ratification of that international legal instrument will enable Côte d’Ivoire to demonstrate notable progress in terms of promoting and protecting human rights.