Death Penalty Worldwide


« January 2012 | Main | March 2012 »

2 posts from February 2012


Burkina Faso: Abolitionist de Facto

Burkina Faso is the latest country for which we updated our research on the Death Penalty Worldwide website. Burkina Faso has carried out two executions in its history, one in 1984 and the other in 1988. With no executions in the past ten years, it is considered an abolitionist de facto state.

Although its use of capital punishment is limited compared to many other non-abolitionist states, Burkina Faso presents the typically contradictory characteristics of a state that neither applies nor abolishes the death penalty. In recent years, high level governmental actors have declared their support for abolition before international gatherings – including President Compaoré in February 2010 and the Minister for Justice in May later that year. In March 2009, Burkinabe representatives declared before the U.N. Human Rights Council that the death penalty would be abolished by 2013, when it its next Universal Periodic Review of human rights is scheduled to take place. Burkina Faso also consistently voted in favor of a U.N. General Assembly Moratorium on all executions.

Nevertheless, no concrete steps towards abolition have been taken, and Burkinabe courts have handed down death sentences as recently as 2009 and 2010. The discrepancy between the external pressure to conform to international human rights norms and an internal political debate of resistance could be one explanation for the dissonance of Burkina Faso’s position with regard to capital punishment.

The full updated entry on the death penalty in Burkina Faso is available here.

-- Delphine Lourtau






Benin: Close to Abolition?

The Death Penalty Worldwide database has updated its entry for Benin, available here. The West African state has not carried out any executions since 1987, and is considered to be an “abolitionist de facto” state. Unlike Jamaica, the abolitionist de facto state covered in last week’s post, Benin seems poised to eliminate the death penalty from its legal system. In August of last year, Benin’s National Assembly voted overwhelmingly in favor of ratifying the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, whose state parties commit to abolishing the death penalty. (There were 54 votes in favor, 5 against and 6 abstentions).  The vote demonstrated a broad political consensus on the need to abolish the death penalty, and complete abolition was expected within a few months. While as of today, Benin has not yet signed the Second Optional Protocol, President Yayi Boni has publicly expressed his support for abolition. Indeed, Benin hosted a regional death penalty conference organized by the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights in April 2010.

It is to be hoped that Mr. Boni, who was elected chairman of the African Union a few days ago, will soon act on his clear political mandate to end capital punishment, and will bring his commitment to abolition to his new regional role.  

-- Delphine Lourtau