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)
In January 2013, after ten consecutive years without carrying out executions, the Democratic Republic of the Congo became a “de facto
The current 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.
A bill to abolish the death penalty was rejected by the Congolese National Assembly on 25 November 2010.
Aggravated murder, aggravated robbery, treason, spying, political and military offences and genocide are punishable by death.
The last executions took place on 7 January 2003, when fifteen people, charged with crimes such as subversion of the State, treason, armed robbery and participation in organised crime, were executed in secret at a military camp close to Kinshasa’s Ndjili airport. These were the first executions known to have taken place since the lifting, on September 23, 2002, of a moratorium on executions announced by then-Human Rights Minister Leonard She Okitundu on 10 December 1999. The executions of the 15 were ordered by the Court d’ordre militaire
(COM) a special itinerant tribunal that, since its creation in 1997, had been responsible for the execution of some 200 individuals. The COM was abolished on 24 April 2003.
On 28 June 2003 during a meeting with a Hands off Cain
delegation in Kinshasa, President Joseph Kabila declared that he would not authorise any executions, not even those of the men condemned for the assassination of his father Laurent. Since then, numerous death sentences have been handed down by Courts and Military Tribunals, but none have been carried out. In late 2011, President Kabila was re-elected for a second five-year term.
In 2016, at least 93 new death sentences were issued in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, according to Amnesty International. They were 28 in 2015.
In 2017, at least 12
new death sentences were issued according to Hands off Cain
, all by military courts. According to Amnesty International 22 new death sentences were issued.
On 22 July 2016, Democratic Republic of Congo's President Joseph Kabila commuted the sentences of all death row inmates to life, and existing life sentences to 20-year terms. The amnesty was granted only to people convicted by decision became final as of 30 June 2016. The President also ordered the release of all female prisoners, disabled, aged 65 or over, 30 or younger, or who were sentenced to less than three years, with the exception of fugitives and people convicted of serious crimes such as rape, murder, corruption, treason and genocide. The presidential act of clemency was the fulfillment of one of the announcements made by the Government of the DRC in Oslo, Norway, on the occasion of the 6th World Congress against the Death Penalty on 21-23 June 2016 through Deputy Minister of Justice. In fact, the Congolese Government had pledged to commute all death sentences to life imprisonment, to vote in favour of the UNGA Resolution for a universal moratorium on executions in December 2016, and to examine the preliminary draft of the new Congolese penal code that does not provide for capital punishment. “These decisions are aimed at creating a political climate of trust and national cohesion, in particular in the context of national and inclusive political dialogue,” said the Coalition Contre la Peine de Mort en République Démocratique du Congo (CCPM-RD).
On 29 April 2014, the Democratic Republic of the Congo was reviewed under the Universal Periodic Review of the UN Human Rights Council. The country’s delegation rejected recommendations to abolish the death penalty in law and ratify the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). In this regard, the government noted that, although the death penalty remains enshrined in domestic positive law, the DRC observes a de facto
moratorium and the death penalty has not been implemented for 11 years.
On 18 December 2014, the Democratic Republic of the Congo abstained from the Resolution on a Moratorium on the Use of the Death Penalty at the UN General Assembly, as in previous years. It was absent in 2008.
On 19 December 2016, it was absent too.
On 17 December 2018, the Democratic Republic of the Congo abstained from the Resolution on a Moratorium on the Use of the Death Penalty at the UN General Assembly.
On 16 December 2020, the Democratic Republic of Congo was absent during the vote on the Resolution on a Moratorium on the Use of the Death Penalty at the UN General Assembly.