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: 0
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 death penalty.
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.
On 29 September 2017, Congo voted for the resolution on the death penalty (L6/17) at the 36° session of the UN Council on Human Rights.
On 17 December 2018, Congo abstained on the UNGA Resolution on a Moratorium on the Use of the Death Penalty.
On 16 December 2020, Congo voted in favour of the Resolution on a Moratorium on the Use of the Death Penalty at the UN General Assembly.