DRC. FIGHTING TO ESTABLISH THE UNCONSTITUTIONALITY OF THE DEATH PENALTY
May 1, 2008: ongoing penal code reform in the Democratic Republic of Congo is giving abolitionists the chance to have the death penalty recognised as unconstitutional. The current Democratic Republic of Congo constitution, in place since early 2006, recognises the "right to life" and the "inviolable nature of human beings". A proposition for an article explicitly abolishing the death penalty was rejected by the national parliament during the text's elaboration in 2005. "We have submitted two requests, one to the director of public prosecutions' office and a second to the Ministry of Justice" to formally establish the unconstitutionality of the death penalty, explains LiÃ©vin N'Gondji, a lawyer and president of Culture for Peace and Justice (CPJ), member of the World and Congolese Coalitions against the death penalty.
Thanks to international aid, the DRC's judicial system is being reformed and donors financing the project have invited CPJ to participate in the joint justice Commission, principally responsible for revising the penal code. N'Gondji estimates that "approximately three quarters of those present were in agreement" with his position on the unconstitutionality of capital punishment.
According to N'Gondji, the Commission will make its recommendations to the government by the end of May. The latter should then make a decision quickly. "The next three months will be crucial", he believes. (Sources: Worldcoalition.org, 01/05/2008)