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4th Regional Congress on the Death Penalty in the Middle East: A historic first step on the road to abolition

The 4th Regional Congress on the Death Penalty in the Middle East ended on 12 July 2023 with a vibrant appeal to the States of the region to develop a progressive strategy with a view to abolishing the death penalty by reducing its scope for all types of crime.
Conclusion of the 4th Regional Congress on the Death Penalty in the Middle East – Adoption of the final declaration (Photo: Rajiv Raman)

“This congress is the beginning of a new awareness in the Middle East of the need to abolish the death penalty, which will be followed by the rest of the world”, hopes Raphaël Chenuil-Hazan, Managing Director of ECPM, the initiator of this project.

Over two hundred participants from some dozen countries converged on Amman on 11 and 12 July to discuss the issue. This was the first time that Together against the death penalty and its partners Penal Reform International and Adaleh, Center for Human Rights Studies, had organised such an event.

For Haitham Shibli, Deputy Director of Penal Reform International, “The fact that Jordan is hosting a conference like this is a strong political signal that paves the way for the possible abolition of the death penalty in the country in the medium term”.

The event brought together fifty experts, including lawyers, judges, academics, NGO representatives, diplomats and journalists from countries as diverse as Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Iran, Jordan, Lebanon, Oman, Syria, Palestine, Saudi Arabia and Yemen.

Aminata Niakaté, President of Together against the death penalty, was relatively optimistic at the end of the demonstration, saying that “Of the 57 Member States of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, 20 have abolished the death penalty and 12 have established a moratorium.  These figures shatter the preconceived notion that the death penalty is intimately linked to Muslim countries and that its abolition is therefore impossible”. In the final declaration, the delegates also called for a firmer commitment from civil society in the Middle East and invited young people of the region to mobilise strongly to achieve universal abolition as soon as possible.

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July 2023
At the end of two days of intense discussion and debates, the 4th Regional Congress…