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Mr. Yangambi Libote’s Visit to France: A Week of Awareness Against the Death Penalty and Advocacy Against the Resumption of Executions in the DRC

Mr. Firmin Yangambi Libote, a fervent human rights advocate, stands against the death penalty in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and globally. As a committed lawyer and president of the NGO Peace on Earth, he actively fights to raise awareness, particularly among youth, about the issues surrounding capital punishment and to defend the rights of those sentenced to death.
Table ronde SiencePo Strasbourg

The presence of Mr. Yangambi Libote was of paramount importance in the context of the lifting of the moratorium on executions of death row prisoners, which had been in place since 2003 in the DRC, formalized by a circular note from the Ministry of Justice on March 13, 2024. Indeed, following a request from the Supreme Defense Council, conveyed during the Cabinet meeting on February 9th, this decision sparked a strong mobilization to advocate and raise awareness in favor of abolishing the death penalty. Currently, over 800 individuals sentenced to death are held in Congolese prisons.

April 2024
Firmin Yangambi Libote, a fervent advocate for human rights and opponent of the death penalty…

Mr. Firmin Yangambi Libote’s week was marked by a series of meetings aimed at raising awareness among as many people as possible on the crucial issue of the death penalty in the DRC and the dramatic consequences that a resumption of executions would entail. Particularly, enriching exchanges took place during two evenings organized with the Bars of Paris and Rouen. On these occasions, Mr. Yangambi Libote addressed his French lawyer colleagues, sharing his experience, the realities of the Congolese justice system, and advocating for the necessary abolition of the death penalty. The in-depth discussions that followed allowed for an exploration of the ethical and legal implications of this issue.

A Decisive Meeting with the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe

His testimony during a thematic discussion on the universal abolition of the death penalty at the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe garnered particular attention. Excerpts from the decision adopted by the Committee following the discussion highlighted the Council of Europe’s unequivocal opposition to the death penalty and the regret of its members regarding the recent lifting of the moratorium in the DRC. Thus, shedding light on the crucial role played by Mr. Yangambi Libote in the abolitionist struggle.

« The Delegates  reaffirmed their unequivocal opposition to the death penalty, including any reintroduction of it, in all places and in all circumstances, and reiterated the Council of Europe’s aim to create a death penalty-free zone in Europe and beyond, and to pursue the fight against its reintroduction and in favour of its universal abolition, in line with the Reykjavík Summit Declaration, » and « took note of the statements made by Firmin Yangambi, former death row prisoner in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Matthew Goldberg, President of the World Coalition against the Death Penalty, Aminata Niakaté, President of Ensemble contre la peine de mort (ECPM), and of the video statement by Renate Wohlwend, former General Rapporteur on the abolition of the death penalty of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe; in this context, regretted the recent lifting of the moratorium on the death penalty in the Democratic Republic of Congo. »

Excerpts from the decision of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe adopted following the thematic discussion on universal abolition of the death penalty.

Awareness-raising among youth at Sciences Po Strasbourg and in Normandy

A roundtable organized by Stras-Diplomacy and MIRA at Sciences Po Strasbourg brought together 250 law and political science students. By mobilizing a diverse range of qualified speakers, this roundtable aimed to raise awareness among students about the abolitionist cause. The close collaboration between different entities, including the Council of Europe, non-governmental organizations like ECPM, and the Permanent Representation of France, allowed for a holistic approach to this essential aspect of human rights advocacy. This initiative sought to provide participants with a comprehensive understanding of the issue by bringing together various perspectives, including that of a former death row prisoner, and highlighting the importance of advocacy for abolition. The role of youth within it was also emphasized.

Furthermore, during a voting event organized in Caen as part of the Prix Liberté (proposed by the Normandy Region, implemented with the International Institute of Human Rights and Peace, the Prix Liberté is an educational program aimed at raising awareness of freedom, peace, and human rights anchored in the values ​​embodied by the D-Day landings on June 6, 1944 in Normandy), a portion of ECPM’s Education team and Mr. Yangambi Libote sensitized around a hundred high school students to the lifting of the moratorium on executions in the DRC and the human stakes of the abolitionist struggle.

The diversity of the individuals met and the exchanges that ensued attest to the crucial importance of Mr. Yangambi Libote’s visit to France. His impassioned advocacy for the abolition of the death penalty in the DRC resonates beyond national borders, inspiring strengthened mobilization for a world without capital punishment.

April 2024
To His Excellency the President of the Republic and Head of State of the Democratic…