Sports and the death penalty : On a Reprieve initiative, ECPM and several NGOs call on Formula 1 drivers to take action for the abolition
31 March 2022
As the 2022 Saudi Arabia Grand Prix took place on the last weekend of March, ECPM and 9 other human rights groups, including Reprieve, sent joint letters to the drivers, urging them to follow Lewis Hamilton's lead in challenging the Gulf states on rights violations.
On Saturday 12 March, 2022, Saudi Arabia beheaded 81 people on death row, more than all executions in 2021. On that day, more than 50 per cent of the condemned prisoners were executed for their participation in pro-democracy protests, and 70 per cent for non-lethal offences. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, condemned these acts, but they were followed by a new wave of executions in the following days, taking the lives of 16 men. These mass executions goes against of the values of sport, with the indifference of the sports federations, which do not seem to take them into account when choosing the host countries for competitions, even though we have witnessed their ability to boycott without delay the competitions organised in Russia since the beginning of the invasion of Ukraine.
In 2020, ECPM published a study on the process of abolishing the death penalty in member states of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), whose number of abolitionist states has now risen to 20 since the recent abolition of the death penalty in Kazakhstan. This analysis provides a valuable tool to accompany retentionist and moratorium states towards abolition of the death penalty by demonstrating that the intervention of parliamentarians, civil society actors or other political persons in favour of abolition has played and will play a decisive role.