Dr Bärbel Kofler, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid at the Federal Foreign Office, issued the following statement today (20 February) on the suspension of the death penalty in the Gambia:
“I warmly welcome the decision by Gambian President Adama Barrow to suspend the use of the death penalty in his country as a first step towards abolition. The moratorium also sends a positive message by President Barrow as regards furthering reforms and fostering political change in the Gambia.
The death penalty is an inhuman and cruel form of punishment. The German Government rejects the death penalty under all circumstances and will continue to work with its partners in the European Union to actively campaign for its worldwide abolition.”
Following more than 20 years of autocratic rule in the Gambia, the new Gambian Government is demonstrating the political will to create a democratic state governed by the rule of law. In September 2017, President Barrow signed the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty. During his speech on Gambian Independence Day on Sunday (18 February), President Barrow announced a moratorium on the use of the death penalty.
The German Government is working with its partners in the European Union to actively push for the worldwide abolition of the death penalty. For example, the European Union presents diplomatic démarches and makes public declarations on the basis of the Guidelines to EU Policy towards Third Countries on the Death Penalty. These démarches and declarations can be about individual countries’ general practices or the use of the death penalty in specific cases.
With regard to the United Nations, the 62nd General Assembly in 2007 adopted a UN resolution (A/RES/62/149) for the first time on suspension of the death penalty at the initiative of the EU Member States, with a majority of UN members voting in favour of the resolution. Later resolutions were supported by a higher number of countries, thus showing a global trend towards abolition of the death penalty.
Information on the Federal Republic of Germany’s endeavours against the death penalty can also be found on page 155 of the Federal Government’s Twelfth Annual Human Rights Report, which can be downloaded here.