Togo abolishes the death penalty

June 26, 2009

Graphic of the fence flying off into the sky

Reprieve welcomes the news that Togo has abolished the death penalty after a ‘unanimous vote’ on 23 June by the national assembly.

It is now the 15th member of the African Union – and the 94th country in the world – to do so. The vote was witnessed by Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, who has been campaigning for a global moratorium on the death penalty. His ultimate goal is total abolition worldwide.

Togo’s president Faure Gnassingbe supports the abolition and was compliant in signing it into law.

Justice Minister Kokou Tozoun said: “This country has chosen to establish a healthy justice system that limits judicial errors…and guarantees the inherent rights of the individual. This system is no longer compatible with a penal code that maintains the death penalty and grants the judiciary absolute power with irrevocable consequences.”

Togo has not carried out any executions in over three decades. The last executions date back to 1978 and the last death sentence was given in 2003. There were reportedly six people on Togo’s death row in the capital, Lome, at the time of the vote in favour of abolition. “Under the unanimous vote, convicts condemned to death will have their sentences commuted to life imprisonment.”

Reprieve’s Director Clive Stafford Smith says of the decision: “It is fantastic that more governments around the world are realizing the need to abolish capital punishment. Togo’s vote is a clear signal about the increasing understanding of states’ obligations to recognize the value of human life.”

-ENDS-

For further information, please contact Katherine O’Shea at Reprieve’s Press Office katherine.oshea@reprieve.org.uk 020 7427 1099.

Notes for Editors:

Reprieve, a legal action charity, uses the law to enforce the human rights of prisoners, from death row to Guantánamo Bay. Reprieve investigates, litigates and educates, working on the frontline, to provide legal support to prisoners unable to pay for it themselves. Reprieve promotes the rule of law around the world, securing each person’s right to a fair trial and saving lives. Clive Stafford Smith is the founder of Reprieve and has spent 25 years working on behalf of people facing the death penalty in the USA.

Reprieve’s current casework involves representing 33 prisoners in the US prison at Guantanamo Bay, working on behalf of prisoners facing the death penalty, and conducting ongoing investigations into the rendition and the secret detention of ‘ghost prisoners’ in the so-called ‘war on terror.’

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