By Naoufel Cherkaoui
By Naoufel Cherkaoui
Rabat, October 24, 2012
Human rights activists are urging Maghreb governments to follow through on reform pledges and abolish capital punishment.
Rabat played host last week to the first regional conference aimed at abolishing the death penalty in the Middle East and North Africa.
The October 18th-20th event was organised by the Moroccan Human Rights Association (OMDH), the Moroccan Coalition against the Death Penalty and the “All against the Death Penalty” association.
The goal of the event was to present the experiences of countries that banned capital punishment, particularly those in the Maghreb region, and to call for abolishing the penalty on the international level.
“The right to life is a natural extension to human rights, and this compels us to do collective mobilisation to urge regional countries to join international obligations on the death penalty, to change their national legislations as a guarantee for respecting the human right to life, and to change their practices as a start for changing their legislations and regulations,” Rabat mayor Fathallah Oualalou said.
“Morocco is qualified, more any other country in the region, to take this qualitative leap since it has stopped the implementation of death penalties for two decades,” he added. “This is also in view of the spirit and content of the recent constitutional reforms. In addition, taking part in efforts against the death penalty and linking to global values that call for the respect of man would boost the moral and political reality of regional countries.”
Mourad Abaderi, a spokesperson for Tunisia’s human rights minister, said that there had been a “change in the way of dealing with this penalty since the outbreak of revolution”.
Algerian activists are also seeking reform. “It’s about time we put an end to the death penalty now that some peoples in the region are facing tough circumstances under which the death penalty is imposed in many cases,” commented Ayachi Daadoua, a member of Algeria’s National Consultative Committee for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights (CNCPPDH).
Meanwhile, Morocco’s National Human Rights Council (CNDH) Chairman Driss El Yazami said that “one of the recommendations of the Justice and Reconciliation Commission (IER) was to call on Morocco to ratify the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.”
El Yazami urged the government to take up the treaty, which bans the death penalty, as part of national consultations on judicial reform in Morocco.
“The death penalty is stipulated for in all laws in the Maghreb, but its implementation is stopped in most countries,” Abderahim Jamai of the Moroccan Coalition against the Death Penalty told Magharebia. “However, regional countries’ failure to ratify the UN recommendations makes them states where the death penalty is still a possibility.”
“We hope there will be political boldness and response to Maghreb public opinion towards enhancing the protection of right to life, and we hope that this conference will have an effect on the abolition of the death penalty,” Jamai added.
The Moroccan and Algerian governments have already said that the abolition of the death penalty is not a priority, while Tunisia is the closest country to abolishing the penalty after declaring its intent to ratify the international ban.