state of civil and political rights: Not free
constitution: approved by referendum on 20 January 2002
legal system: based on French law and customary norms
legislative system: bicameral, Senate and National Assembly
judicial system: Supreme Court
religion: Christian 50%, animist 48%, Muslim 2%
year of last executions: 0-10-1982
death sentences: 1
international treaties on human rights and the death penalty:
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
1st Optional Protocol to the Covenant
Convention on the Rights of the Child
Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
Statute of the International Criminal Court (which excludes the death penalty)
Murder, treason, spying and offences against the State are capital crimes.
The 1992 Constitution fully abolished the death penalty, which is still
provided for in the Penal Code. The last execution was carried out in
October 1982, when two men went before a firing squad for murder.
The country's first multi-party elections in 1992, won by Pascal
Lissouba, were disputed, leading to a first bout of internal strife in
1993. In 1997 a full-scale civil war broke out. Former marxist military
ruler Denis Sassou Nguesso won power again in 1997 with the help of
Angola, ousting the then President Pascal Lissouba and his Prime
Minister Bernard Kolelas, who were then condemned to death in absentia
for crimes committed during the civil war.
Militia loyal to Kolelas and Lissouba took up arms in mid-1998, leading
to fresh clashes that put hundreds of thousands of civilians (reportedly
800,000) to flight in 1999 in the capital's southern suburbs and in the
south of the country.
Peace deals between the government and militia commanders in November
and December 1999 halted the fighting. Some rebels continued to fight
government forces in the southern Pool region until another peace deal
was signed in March 2003.
In 2002, the first political elections held since 1992 were won by Denis
Sassou-Nguesso, who started a seven-year term in March of that year.
Former President Pascal Lissouba and former Prime Minister Bernard
Kolelas were excluded from taking part by a residency law. A new
constitution giving the president more powers was adopted by referendum
in January 2002.
In August 2007, on the occasion of the national holiday, all
death-sentences were commuted to hard labor for life by the head of
state. Reports indicate that 17 death-sentenced prisoners were affected
by the presidential decree.
On 30 October 2013, the Republic of Congo was reviewed under the Universal Periodic Review of the UN Human Rights
Council. The Government said that the Congo had not applied the death penalty
since 1982. As such, the country was considered to be de facto abolitionist.
The question of the legal abolition of the death penalty was under
consideration, taking into account change in attitude towards the matter.
However, it accepted all the recommendations regarding the abolition of the
On December 19, 2016, Congo co-sponsored and voted in favour of the
Resolution on a Moratorium on the Use of the Death Penalty at the UN
General Assembly, as in previous years.