Death Penalty Database
(Archived Reports)

Congo (Republic of the)

Information current as of: April 7, 2014

General

Official Country Name

Republic of the Congo (Congo, Congo-Brazzaville). [1]

Geographical Region

Africa (Middle Africa). [2]

Death Penalty Law Status

Abolitionist de facto. The last execution took place in 1982, [3] when two people were executed for murder. [4]

Methods of Execution

Beheading.
The Penal Code provides for beheading by the “bois de justice,” the old legal name given to the guillotine. However, where no guillotine is available, execution is to be by firing squad. [5]

Shooting.
Firing squad. [6]
The Penal Code provides for beheading by the “bois de justice,” the old legal name given to the guillotine. However, where no guillotine is available, execution is to be by firing squad. [7]

References

[1] BBC, Country Profiles: Republic of Congo Profile, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-14121192, May 21, 2013.
[2] U.N., Composition of macro geographical (continental) regions, geographical sub-regions, and selected economic and other groupings, http://unstats.un.org/unsd/methods/m49/m49regin.htm, Oct. 31, 2013.
[3] U.N.G.A. Human Rights Council, National Report Submitted In Accordance With Paragraph 15 (A) Of The Annex To Human Rights Council Resolution 5/1, Congo, para. 39, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/WG.6/17/COG/1, Jul 25, 2013. Amnesty Intl., Death Penalty: Countries Abolitionist in Practice, http://www.amnesty.org/en/death-penalty/countries-abolitionist-in-practice, last accessed Feb. 26, 2014.
[4] La peine de mort dans le monde, La peine de mort – Congo, http://www.peinedemort.org/National/pays.php?pays=80, last accessed Feb. 27, 2014.
[5] Penal Code of Congo, art. 12, Mar. 29, 1836, updated through to Aug. 2001, in Codes d’Audience, Recueil de codes et textes usuels, Editions Giraf, Aug. 2001.
[6] Penal Code of Congo, art. 12, Mar. 29, 1836, updated through to Aug. 2001, in Codes d’Audience, Recueil de codes et textes usuels, Editions Giraf, Aug. 2001.Ensemble Contre la Peine de Mort, La peine de mort dans le monde: Congo, http://www.abolition.fr/node/361, last accessed Feb. 26, 2014.
[7] Penal Code of Congo, art. 12, Mar. 29, 1836, updated through to Aug. 2001, in Codes d’Audience, Recueil de codes et textes usuels, Editions Giraf, Aug. 2001.

Country Details

Language(s)

French. [1]

Population

4.2 million (UN, 2012). [2]

Number of Individuals Currently Under Sentence of Death

At least 3.

The president commuted all death sentences in August 2007. [3] Reports indicate that 17 death-sentenced prisoners were affected by the presidential decree. [4] In July 2011, three people were sentenced to death for trafficking human bones. [5] We found no reports of new death sentences in 2012 [6] or 2013. [7]

Annual Number of Reported Executions

Executions in 2018 to date

0. [8]

Executions in 2017

0. [9]

Executions in 2016 (last updated on August 15, 2018)

0. [10]

Per capita execution rate in 2016

Executions in 2015

0. [11]

Per capita execution rate in 2015

0 executions.

Executions in 2014

0. [12]

Per capita execution rate in 2014

0 executions

Executions in 2013

0. [13]

Per capita execution rate in 2013

0 executions

Executions in 2012

0. [14]

Per capita execution rate in 2012

0 executions

Executions in 2011

0. [15]

Per capita execution rate in 2011

0 executions

Executions in 2010

0. [16]

Executions in 2009

0. [17]

Executions in 2008

0. [18]

Executions in 2007

0. [19]

Year of Last Known Execution

1982. [20]

References

[1] Constitution of the Republic of Congo, art. 6, Jan. 20, 2002.
[2] BBC, Country Profiles: Republic of Congo Profile, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-14121192, May 21, 2013
[3] Presidential Decree of Congo portant remise des peines et prononcé de grâces, art. 1, No. 007-394, Aug. 17, 2007.
[4] Ensemble Contre la Peine de Mort, La peine de mort dans le monde: Congo, http://www.abolition.fr/node/361, last accessed Feb. 26, 2014. Ensemble Contre la Peine de Mort, Les condamnations à mort commuées, http://www.abolition.fr/ar/actualites/les-condamnations-%C3%A0-mort-commu%C3%A9es, Aug. 15, 2007. La Peine de Mort dans le Monde, Fête nationale au Congo : Sassou commue les peines de mort, AFP, http://www.peinedemort.org/document.php?choix=2464, Aug. 19, 2007.
[5] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2011, p. 47, ACT 50/001/2012, Mar. 27, 2012.
[6] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2012, ACT 50/011/2013, Apr. 10, 2013.
[7] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2013, ACT 50/001/2014, Mar. 26, 2014.
[8] DPW Executions and Death Sentences Monitor.
[9] DPW Executions and Death Sentences Monitor.
[10] Amnesty International, Death sentences and executions in 2016, ACT 50/5740/2017, Apr. 11, 2017.
[11] DPW Executions and Death Sentences Monitor.
[12] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2014, ACT 50/001/2015, Mar. 31, 2015.
[13] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2013, ACT 50/001/2014, Mar. 26, 2014.
[14] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2012, ACT 50/001/2012, Apr. 9, 2013.
[15] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2011, ACT 50/001/2012, http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/ACT50/001/2012/en, Mar. 27, 2012.
[16] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2010, p. 5, ACT 50/001/2011, Mar. 28, 2011.
[17] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2009, ACT 50/001/2010, Mar. 30, 2010.
[18] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2008, ACT 50/003/2009, Mar. 24, 2009.
[19] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2007, ACT 50/001/2008, Apr. 15, 2008.
[20] U.N.G.A. Human Rights Council, National Report Submitted In Accordance With Paragraph 15 (A) Of The Annex To Human Rights Council Resolution 5/1, Congo, para. 39, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/WG.6/17/COG/1, Jul 25, 2013. Amnesty Intl., Death Penalty: Countries Abolitionist in Practice, http://www.amnesty.org/en/death-penalty/countries-abolitionist-in-practice, last accessed Feb. 26, 2014.

Crimes and Offenders Punishable By Death

Crimes Punishable by Death

Aggravated Murder.
Parricide, poisoning, murder in order to commit cannibalism, premeditated murder (except when a mother kills her newborn child), [1] and murder to facilitate or further another crime [2] are punishable by death.

Other Offenses Resulting in Death.
The following offenses, when resulting in death, are punishable by death, without a requirement that the death be intentional: castration, [3] kidnapping of a minor, [4] arson, [5] destruction of infrastructure and explosion of a steam-machine. [6] Moreover, accomplices are punished in the same way as the perpetrator of an offense. [7] Violent acts of piracy resulting in death are punishable by death for the entire crew of the ship. [8] Acts of mutiny against a ship’s captain are also characterized as piracy. [9]

Terrorism-Related Offenses Resulting in Death.
Arson, bombing or voluntary destruction of aircrafts or airport facilities resulting in death, [10] and the hijacking of an aircraft causing death [11] are punishable by death.

Terrorism-Related Offenses Not Resulting in Death.
Arson, bombing or voluntary destruction of aircrafts or airport facilities resulting in serious bodily harm is punishable by death. [12]

Robbery Not Resulting in Death.
Armed robbery is punishable by death. [13]

Arson Not Resulting in Death.
Arson or bombing of state-owned facilities, [14] arson of private dwellings, inhabited shops, cargos and construction sites or trains with people on board [15] are punishable by death.

Treason.
Various treasonous acts are punishable by death. [16] Provoking or offering to commit some of these acts of treason is punishable by death. [17]

Espionage.
Espionage is punishable by death. Provoking or offering to commit espionage are punishable by death as well. [18]

War crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.
Act 8-98 of 31 October 1998 incorporates into the Criminal Code the definitions of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes adopted by the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. [19] Genocide, attempted genocide, [20] war crimes [21] and crimes against humanity [22] are all punishable by death. Inciting or ordering these offenses is also punishable by death. [23]

Other Offenses Not Resulting in Death.
- Torture: The use of torture or “barbaric practices” in order to commit a felony is punishable by death. [24] To torture an illegally arrested, detained or sequestered person is also death-eligible. [25]

- Piracy: Acts of piracy committed with violence are punishable by death for the entire crew of the ship if they result in injury. Commanders and officers of the ship are punishable by death even if there is no death or injury caused. [26] Acts of mutiny against a ship’s captain are also characterized as piracy. [27]

- Child Neglect: To repeatedly ill-treat a child younger than 15 years of age, with the intention to kill him or her, is punishable by death. [28]

- Attempts: Attempting to commit a death-eligible crime is punishable by death. [29] The Penal Code specifies that poisoning not resulting in death is punishable by death, [30] and that assaulting a judge or a civil servant while he or she is on duty, with the intent to kill him or her, is punishable by death. [31]

- Recidivism: An individual who is sentenced to forced labor for life and who commits a second offense also bearing a sentence of forced labor for life will be sentenced to death. If the first sentence was handed down by a military court, the first offense must also be punishable under civil criminal law in order to trigger this recidivism rule. [32]

- Perjury: False accusations that lead to an individual being sentenced to death and intentional misrepresentation of oral statements or written documents by an interpreter during the trial leading to the defendant being sentenced to death are punishable by death. [33]

- “Pillage” or “devastation” of food, goods, personal belongings and property committed by a band; devastation of public infrastructures, housing, fences and any building or facilities by a band are punishable by death. [34]

Comments.
We were not able to locate legislation defining military offenses by the end of our research. It is possible that there are death-eligible military offenses of which we are unaware.

Does the country have a mandatory death penalty?

Yes. For a particular type of offender and a particular type of offense, the mandatory death penalty applies. There is a general mitigation provision: under Article 463 of the Penal Code, if the court finds mitigating circumstances, a death sentence can be commuted to forced labor. [35] However, Article 463 applies to all crimes except one: premeditated murder and attempted premeditated murder committed by members of an “Andzimba” (secret organization) or similar organizations. For this crime, court is not permitted to consider mitigating circumstances. [36]

For Which Offenses, If Any, Is a Mandatory Death Sentence Imposed?

Aggravated Murder.
Premeditated murder and attempted premeditated murder committed by members of an “Andzimba” (secret organization) or similar organizations are punished by the mandatory death penalty. [37]

Crimes For Which Individuals Have Been Executed Since January 2008:

None. No individual has been executed in Congo since 1982. [38]

Categories of Offenders Excluded From the Death Penalty:

Individuals Below Age 18 At Time of Crime.
Congo is party to the ICCPR [39] and to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, [40] which prohibit the execution of individuals for crimes committed while under the age of 18. In accordance with Congo’s international obligations, Congolese law provides that juvenile offenders convicted of a death-eligible offense will be sentenced to 10 to 20 years’ imprisonment. [41]

Pregnant Women.
Congo is party to the ICCPR, [42] which prohibits the execution of pregnant women. Congo is also party to the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, which prohibits the imposition of a death sentence on mothers of infants and young children. [43] In accordance with Congo’s international obligations, Congolese law provides that pregnant women cannot be executed before they have given birth to their child. [44]

Women With Small Children.
Congo is party to the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, which prohibits the imposition of a death sentence on mothers of infants and young children. [45] We were unable to find national legislation implementing this treaty norm, but a ratified treaty is a source of direct law in Congo. [46]

Mentally Ill.
Under Article 64 of the Penal Code, no criminal responsibility can attach to an accused who was affected by a mental illness (“en état de démence”) at the time of the offense. [47] We found no source excluding the application of capital punishment to prisoners who are mentally ill at the time of execution.

References

[1] Penal Code of Congo, art. 302, Mar. 29, 1836, updated through to Aug. 2001, in Codes d’Audience, Recueil de codes et textes usuels, Editions Giraf, Aug. 2001.
[2] Penal Code of Congo, art. 304, Mar. 29, 1836, updated through to Aug. 2001, in Codes d’Audience, Recueil de codes et textes usuels, Editions Giraf, Aug. 2001.
[3] Penal Code of Congo, art. 316, Mar. 29, 1836, updated through to Aug. 2001, in Codes d’Audience, Recueil de codes et textes usuels, Editions Giraf, Aug. 2001.
[4] Penal Code of Congo, art. 355, Mar. 29, 1836, updated through to Aug. 2001, in Codes d’Audience, Recueil de codes et textes usuels, Editions Giraf, Aug. 2001.
[5] Penal Code of Congo, arts. 434-435, Mar. 29, 1836, updated through to Aug. 2001, in Codes d’Audience, Recueil de codes et textes usuels, Editions Giraf, Aug. 2001.
[6] Penal Code of Congo, art. 59, Mar. 29, 1836, updated through to Aug. 2001, in Codes d’Audience, Recueil de codes et textes usuels, Editions Giraf, Aug. 2001.
[7] Penal Code of Congo, art. 355, Mar. 29, 1836, updated through to Aug. 2001, in Codes d’Audience, Recueil de codes et textes usuels, Editions Giraf, Aug. 2001.
[8] Merchant Navy Code of Congo (Loi portant Code de la Marine Marchande), art. 275, Law No. 30-63, Jul. 4, 1963.
[9] Merchant Navy Code of Congo (Loi portant Code de la Marine Marchande), arts. 273, 277, Law No. 30-63, Jul. 4, 1963.
[10] Law Repressing Crimes Against The Safety of Civil Aviation of Congo (Loi relative à la répression des infractions contre la sûreté de l’aviation civile), art. 2, Law No. 006/91, May 16, 1991, updated through to 2001.
[11] Law Repressing Crimes Against The Safety of Civil Aviation of Congo (Loi relative à la répression des infractions contre la sûreté de l’aviation civile), art. 7, Law No. 006/91, May 16, 1991, updated through to 2001.
[12] Law Repressing Crimes Against The Safety of Civil Aviation of Congo (Loi relative à la répression des infractions contre la sûreté de l’aviation civile), art. 2, Law No. 006/91, May 16, 1991, updated through to 2001.
[13] Penal Code of Congo, art. 381, Mar. 29, 1836, updated through to Aug. 2001, in Codes d’Audience, Recueil de codes et textes usuels, Editions Giraf, Aug. 2001.
[14] Penal Code of Congo, art. 95, Mar. 29, 1836, updated through to Aug. 2001, in Codes d’Audience, Recueil de codes et textes usuels, Editions Giraf, Aug. 2001.
[15] Penal Code of Congo, arts. 434-435, Mar. 29, 1836, updated through to Aug. 2001, in Codes d’Audience, Recueil de codes et textes usuels, Editions Giraf, Aug. 2001.
[16] Penal Code of Congo, arts. 75-76, 91-97, Mar. 29, 1836, updated through to Aug. 2001, in Codes d’Audience, Recueil de codes et textes usuels, Editions Giraf, Aug. 2001. Merchant Navy Code of Congo (Loi portant Code de la Marine Marchande), arts. 272, 273, 276, 277, Law No. 30-63, Jul. 4, 1963.
[17] Penal Code of Congo, art.77, Mar. 29, 1836, updated through to Aug. 2001, in Codes d’Audience, Recueil de codes et textes usuels, Editions Giraf, Aug. 2001.
[18] Penal Code of Congo, art.77, Mar. 29, 1836, updated through to Aug. 2001, in Codes d’Audience, Recueil de codes et textes usuels, Editions Giraf, Aug. 2001.
[19] U.N.G.A. Human Rights Council, Report of the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances : Addendum : Mission to the Republic of the Congo, para. 30, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/19/58/Add.3, Jan. 29, 2012.
[20] Law Repressing Genocide, War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity of Congo (Loi portant définition et répression du génocide, des crimes de guerre et des crimes contre l’humanité), arts. 1-3, Law No. 8-98, Oct. 31, 1998, as updated through to 2001
[21] Law Repressing Genocide, War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity of Congo (Loi portant définition et répression du génocide, des crimes de guerre et des crimes contre l’humanité), arts. 4, 5, Law No. 8-98, Oct. 31, 1998, as updated through to 2001
[22] Law Repressing Genocide, War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity of Congo (Loi portant définition et répression du génocide, des crimes de guerre et des crimes contre l’humanité), arts. 6-9, Law No. 8-98, Oct. 31, 1998, as updated through to 2001.
[23] Law Repressing Genocide, War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity of Congo (Loi portant définition et répression du génocide, des crimes de guerre et des crimes contre l’humanité), art. 10, Law No. 8-98, Oct. 31, 1998, as updated through to 2001.
[24] Penal Code of Congo, art. 303, Mar. 29, 1836, updated through to Aug. 2001, in Codes d’Audience, Recueil de codes et textes usuels, Editions Giraf, Aug. 2001.
[25] Penal Code of Congo, art. 344, Mar. 29, 1836, updated through to Aug. 2001, in Codes d’Audience, Recueil de codes et textes usuels, Editions Giraf, Aug. 2001.
[26] Merchant Navy Code of Congo (Loi portant Code de la Marine Marchande), arts. 271, 275, Law No. 30-63, Jul. 4, 1963.
[27] Merchant Navy Code of Congo (Loi portant Code de la Marine Marchande), arts. 273, 277, Law No. 30-63, Jul. 4, 1963.
[28] Penal Code of Congo, art. 312, Mar. 29, 1836, updated through to Aug. 2001, in Codes d’Audience, Recueil de codes et textes usuels, Editions Giraf, Aug. 2001.
[29] Penal Code of Congo, art. 2, Mar. 29, 1836, updated through to Aug. 2001, in Codes d’Audience, Recueil de codes et textes usuels, Editions Giraf, Aug. 2001.
[30] Penal Code of Congo, art. 302, Mar. 29, 1836, updated through to Aug. 2001, in Codes d’Audience, Recueil de codes et textes usuels, Editions Giraf, Aug. 2001.
[31] Penal Code of Congo, art. 233, Mar. 29, 1836, updated through to Aug. 2001, in Codes d’Audience, Recueil de codes et textes usuels, Editions Giraf, Aug. 2001.
[32] Penal Code of Congo, art. 56, Mar. 29, 1836, updated through to Aug. 2001, in Codes d’Audience, Recueil de codes et textes usuels, Editions Giraf, Aug. 2001.
[33] Penal Code of Congo, arts. 361, 367, Mar. 29, 1836, updated through to Aug. 2001, in Codes d’Audience, Recueil de codes et textes usuels, Editions Giraf, Aug. 2001.
[34] Law of Congo sur les pillages et les dévastations, arts. 1-2, No. 5/63, Jan. 13, 1963.
[35] Penal Code of Congo, art. 463, Mar. 29, 1836, updated through to Aug. 2001, in Codes d’Audience, Recueil de codes et textes usuels, Editions Giraf, Aug. 2001.
[36] Law excluding the application of article 463 of the Penal Code to certain crimes (Loi écartant l’application de l’article 463 du code pénal à certains crimes), art. 2, Law No. 7/64, Jun. 25, 1964, updated through to 2001.
[37] Law excluding the application of article 463 of the Penal Code to certain crimes (Loi écartant l’application de l’article 463 du code pénal à certains crimes), art. 2, Law No. 7/64, Jun. 25, 1964, updated through to 2001.
[38] U.N.G.A. Human Rights Council, National Report Submitted In Accordance With Paragraph 15 (A) Of The Annex To Human Rights Council Resolution 5/1, Congo, para. 39, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/WG.6/17/COG/1, Jul 25, 2013. Amnesty Intl., Death Penalty: Countries Abolitionist in Practice, http://www.amnesty.org/en/death-penalty/countries-abolitionist-in-practice, last accessed Feb. 26, 2014.
[39] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-4&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Feb. 26, 2014.
[40] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1577 U.N.T.S. 3, Nov. 20, 1989,http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=UNTSONLINE&tabid=2&mtdsg_no=IV-11&chapter=4&lang=en#Participants, last accessed Feb. 26, 2014.
[41] Criminal Procedure Code of Congo, art. 708, Law No. 1-63, Jan. 13, 1963, updated through to 2003. U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child Committee on the Rights of the Child, Consideration Of Reports Submitted By States Parties Under Article 44 Of The Convention, Initial Reports Of States Parties Due In 1999, Congo, para. 432, U.N. Doc. CRC/C/COG/1, Feb. 20, 2006.
[42] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-4&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Feb. 26, 2014.
[43] African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Ratification Table: African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, http://www.achpr.org/instruments/child/ratification, last accessed Feb. 26, 2014. A.U., African Charter On The Rights And Welfare Of The Child,art. 30, e, A.U. Doc. CAB/LEG/24.9/49, Jul. 11, 1990.
[44] Penal Code of Congo, art. 27, Mar. 29, 1836, updated through to Aug. 2001, in Codes d’Audience, Recueil de codes et textes usuels, Editions Giraf, Aug. 2001.
[45] African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Ratification Table: African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, http://www.achpr.org/instruments/child/ratification, last accessed Feb. 26, 2014. A.U., African Charter On The Rights And Welfare Of The Child,art. 30, e, A.U. Doc. CAB/LEG/24.9/49, Jul. 11, 1990.
[46] Constitution of the Republic of Congo, art. 184, Jan. 20, 2002.
[47] Penal Code of Congo, art. 64, Mar. 29, 1836, updated through to Aug. 2001, in Codes d’Audience, Recueil de codes et textes usuels, Editions Giraf, Aug. 2001.

International Commitments

ICCPR

Party?

Yes. [1]

Date of Accession

Oct. 5, 1983. [2]

Signed?

No. [3]

Date of Signature

Not Applicable.

First Optional Protocol to the ICCPR, Recognizing Jurisdiction of the Human Rights Committee

Party?

Yes. [4]

Date of Accession

Oct. 5, 1983. [5]

Signed?

No. [6]

Date of Signature

Not Applicable.

Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR, Toward the Abolition of the Death Penalty

Party?

No. [7]

Date of Accession

Not Applicable.

Signed?

No. [8]

Date of Signature

Not Applicable.

American Convention on Human Rights

Party?

Not Applicable.

Date of Accession

Signed?

Not Applicable.

Date of Signature

Death Penalty Protocol to the ACHR

Party?

Not Applicable.

Date of Accession

Signed?

Not Applicable.

Date of Signature

African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights (ACHPR)

Party?

Yes. [9]

Date of Accession

Dec. 9, 1982. [10]

Signed?

Yes. [11]

Date of Signature

Nov. 27, 1981. [12]

Protocol to the ACHPR on the Rights of Women in Africa

Party?

No. [13]

Date of Accession

Not Applicable.

Signed?

Yes. [14]

Date of Signature

Feb. 27, 2004. [15]

African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child

Party?

Yes. [16]

Date of Accession

Sep. 8, 2006. [17]

Signed?

Yes. [18]

Date of Signature

Feb. 28, 1992. [19]

Arab Charter on Human Rights

Party?

Not Applicable.

Date of Accession

Signed?

Not Applicable.

Date of Signature

2016 Record of Votes on the UN General Assembly Moratorium Resolution

Cosponsor

Vote

In Favor. [20]

Signed the Note Verbale of Dissociation

No. [21]

2014 Record of Votes on the UN General Assembly Moratorium Resolution

Cosponsor

Yes. [22]

Vote

In Favor. [23]

Signed the Note Verbale of Dissociation

No. [24]

2012 Record of Votes on the UN General Assembly Moratorium Resolution

Cosponsor

Yes. [25]

Vote

In Favor. [26]

Signed the Note Verbale of Dissociation

No. [27]

2010 Record of Votes on the UN General Assembly Moratorium Resolution

Cosponsor

Yes. [28]

Vote

In Favor. [29]

Signed the Note Verbale of Dissociation

No. [30]

2008 Record of Votes on the UN General Assembly Moratorium Resolution

Cosponsor

Yes. [31]

Vote

In Favor. [32]

Signed the Note Verbale of Dissociation

No. [33]

2007 Record of Votes on the UN General Assembly Moratorium Resolution

Cosponsor

No. [34]

Vote

In Favor. [35]

Signed the Note Verbale of Dissociation

No. [36]

References

[1] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-4&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Feb. 26, 2014.
[2] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-4&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Feb. 26, 2014.
[3] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-4&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Feb. 26, 2014.
[4] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, Optional Prot. to the ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-5&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Feb. 26, 2014.
[5] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, Optional Prot. to the ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-5&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Feb. 26, 2014.
[6] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, Optional Prot. to the ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-5&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Feb. 26, 2014.
[7] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, Second Optional Prot. to the ICCPR, Aiming at the Abolition of the Death Penalty, 1642 U.N.T.S. 414, Dec. 15, 1989, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-12&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Feb. 26, 2014.
[8] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, Second Optional Prot. to the ICCPR, Aiming at the Abolition of the Death Penalty, 1642 U.N.T.S. 414, Dec. 15, 1989, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-12&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Feb. 26, 2014.
[9] African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Ratification Table: African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, http://www.achpr.org/instruments/achpr/ratification, last accessed Feb. 26, 2014.
[10] African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Ratification Table: African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, http://www.achpr.org/instruments/achpr/ratification, last accessed Feb. 26, 2014.
[11] African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Ratification Table: African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, http://www.achpr.org/instruments/achpr/ratification, last accessed Feb. 26, 2014.
[12] African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Ratification Table: African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, http://www.achpr.org/instruments/achpr/ratification, last accessed Feb. 26, 2014.
[13] African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Ratification Table: Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, http://www.achpr.org/instruments/women-protocol/ratification, last accessed. Feb. 26, 2014.
[14] African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Ratification Table: Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, http://www.achpr.org/instruments/women-protocol/ratification, last accessed. Feb. 26, 2014.
[15] African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Ratification Table: Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, http://www.achpr.org/instruments/women-protocol/ratification, last accessed. Feb. 26, 2014.
[16] African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Ratification Table: African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, http://www.achpr.org/instruments/child/ratification, last accessed Feb. 26, 2014.
[17] African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Ratification Table: African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, http://www.achpr.org/instruments/child/ratification, last accessed Feb. 26, 2014.
[18] African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Ratification Table: African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, http://www.achpr.org/instruments/child/ratification, last accessed Feb. 26, 2014.
[19] African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Ratification Table: African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, http://www.achpr.org/instruments/child/ratification, last accessed Feb. 26, 2014.
[20] U.N.G.A., 71st Session, Recorded Vote on A/C.3/71/L.27 Moratorium on the Use of the Death Penalty, Nov. 17, 2016.
[21] U.N.G.A., 71st Session, Note Verbale dated 7 September 2017, U.N. Doc. A/71/1047, Sep. 13, 2017.
[22] U.N.G.A., 69th Session, Promotion and Protection of Human Rights: human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, paras. 141, 144, U.N. Doc. A/69/488/Add.2, Dec. 8, 2014.
[23] U.N.G.A., 69th Session, 73rd Plenary Meeting, pp. 17-18, U.N. Doc. A/69/PV.73, Dec. 18, 2014.
[24] U.N.G.A., 69th Session, Note Verbale dated 28 July 2015, U.N. Doc. A/69/993, Jul. 29, 2015.
[25] U.N.G.A., 67th Session, Promotion and Protection of Human Rights: human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, paras. 95-96, U.N. Doc. A/67/457/Add.2, Dec. 8, 2012.
[26] U.N.G.A., 67th Session, 60th Plenary Meeting, pp. 16-17, U.N. Doc. A/67/PV.60, Dec. 20, 2012.
[27] U.N.G.A., 67th Session, Note Verbale dated 16 April 2013, U.N. Doc. A/67/841, Apr. 23, 2013.
[28] U.N.G.A., 65th Session, Promotion and Protection of Human Rights: human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, p. 5, U.N. Doc. A/65/456/Add.2, Dec. 8, 2010.
[29] U.N.G.A., 65th Session, 71st Plenary Meeting, pp. 18-19, U.N. Doc. A/65/PV.71, Dec. 21, 2010.
[30] U.N.G.A., 65th Session, Note Verbale dated 11 March 2011, U.N. Doc. A/65/779, Mar. 11, 2011.
[31] U.N.G.A., 63rd session, Promotion and Protection of Human Rights: human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, U.N. Doc. A/63/430/Add.2, Dec. 4, 2008.
[32] U.N.G.A., 63rd Session, 70th Plenary Meeting, pp. 16- 17, U.N. Doc.A/63/PV.70, Dec. 18, 2008.
[33] U.N.G.A., 63rd Session, Note Verbale dated 10 February 2009, U.N. Doc. A/63/716, Feb. 12, 2009.
[34] U.N.G.A., 62nd Session, Promotion and Protection of Human Rights: human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, U.N. Doc. A/62/439/Add.2, Dec. 5, 2007.
[35] U.N.G.A., 62nd Session, 76th Plenary Meeting, pp. 16- 17, U.N. Doc. A/62/PV.76, Dec. 18, 2007.
[36] U.N.G.A., 62nd Session, Note Verbale dated 11 January 2008, U.N. Doc. A/62/658, Feb. 2, 2008.

Death Penalty In Law

Does the country’s constitution make reference to capital punishment?

Article 7 of the Constitution provides that “the human person is sacred and has the right to life. The state has the absolute obligation to respect it and protect it.” [1] This language could support an argument that the death penalty is unconstitutional.

Does the country’s constitution make reference to international law?

International law is one of the sources of Congolese law. [2] Under Article 184 of the Constitution, treaties and agreements regularly ratified or approved, have, from their publication, an authority superior to that of laws. [3] The Preamble to the Constitution also provides that international human rights instruments that have been ratified by the Republic of Congo are an integral part of its national legislation. [4]

Have there been any significant changes in the application of the death penalty over the last several years?

Although no executions have taken place since 1982 [5] and the government recognizes that there is an unofficial moratorium on the death penalty, [6] there is no political will to abolish capital punishment.

Congolese authorities assured the U.N. Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances in 2012 that the death penalty was no longer applied and that there was a de facto moratorium on its use. [7] Indeed, in August 2007 President Sassou commuted the sentences of all 17 prisoners then on death row to life imprisonment. [8] Death sentences are handed down infrequently, and we found reports of only 3 death sentences being handed down since 2007. [9] Furthermore, Congo has co-sponsored and voted in favor of all four of the U.N. General Assembly’s resolutions on a global moratorium on capital punishment. [10]

However there appears to be no momentum to discuss abolition in law. In December 2010, several NGOs met with government officials to discuss abolition. A senior Ministry of Justice official assured them that the government intended to launch a national debate on the death penalty, but as of February 2013, no such public discussion had been embarked upon. [11] At its 2009 Universal Periodic Review, the government accepted recommendations to abolish the death penalty and consider acceding to the Second Optional Protocol of the ICCPR. [12] It even stated that it must abolish the death penalty in order to “enable every citizen to enjoy the rights of the human person.” [13] At its following UPR in 2013, the government again accepted recommendations to abolish capital punishment, [14] but no concrete steps had been taken in between or since. The government cited “public opinion” as the reason why abolition was still under review. [15]

Is there currently an official moratorium on executions within the country?

No. However, government representatives have stated that the death penalty is no longer applied and that there is a de facto moratorium on its use. [16]

Have there been any significant published cases concerning the death penalty in national courts?

As of February 2014, we did not find any significant published cases concerning the death penalty in Congo.

Where can one locate or access judicial decisions regarding the death penalty?

Some decisions of the Supreme Court are published on Juricaf, the research database of the AHJUCAF (Association des Hautes Juridictions de Cassation Ayant en partage l’usage du Français), an organization of francophone high courts: http://www.juricaf.org/recherche (in French).

Under Article 36 of the Penal Code, death sentence decisions are to be posted publicly in several relevant municipalities (where the offense took place, where the defendant lives, where the decision was rendered, etc.), [17] but we could not ascertain if this provision is still enforced.

What is the clemency process?

Under article 80 of the Constitution, the President grants clemency. [18] The Public Prosecutor must communicate judicial decisions imposing a sentence of death to the Minister of Justice. No execution nay be carried out until clemency has been expressly denied. [19] In August 2007, President Sassou granted clemency to all prisoners on death row and their sentences were commuted to forced labor for life. [20]

Are jury trials provided for defendants charged with capital offenses?

Juries are used in the Criminal Court (“cour criminelle”), which is competent to judge the most serious offenses, including death-eligible offenses. [21] The Criminal Court is composed of three judges, including the President of the Court of Appeal, and 6 jury members. [22] Jury members must be at least 25 years old and must know how to read and write in French. [23] They may ask questions of the defendant and the witnesses during trial, with the permission of the president of the court. [24] Both the jury and the bench deliberate on the issue of guilt. [25] At least 7 votes are necessary for a conviction, [26] which means that at least one judge must vote with the majority. The sentence is decided by a majority of the bench and jury. [27] Juries are not provided in military tribunals. [28]

Brief Description of Appellate Process

Death-eligible offenses are tried by the Criminal Court. [29] Death sentences can be appealed before the Supreme Court, on matters of law only, [30] within the three days following the day the sentence has been handed down or the day of its notification. [31] If the Supreme Court overturns the decision, the accused is retried by the Criminal Court before different judges. [32] The Criminal Procedure Code provides that the Supreme Court must consider the appeal for at least ten days before coming to a decision and must give priority to death penalty cases. [33]

Collateral review (a review on the facts) is also provided by the Criminal Procedure Code. There are four instances that can trigger such a review by the Supreme Court, and all relate to the introduction of new evidence calling the accused’s guilt into question. [34] The Supreme Court may decide to grant a retrial to the accused. [35]

References

[1] Constitution of the Republic of Congo, art. 7, Jan. 20, 2002.
[2] Dunia P. Zongwe, The Legal System of the Republic of Congo (Congo-Brazzaville): Overview and Research, GlobaLex, http://www.nyulawglobal.org/globalex/Congo_Brazzaville.htm, Jan. 2014.
[3] Constitution of the Republic of Congo, art. 184, Jan. 20, 2002.
[4] Constitution of the Republic of Congo, Preamble, Jan. 20, 2002.
[5] U.N.G.A. Human Rights Council, National Report Submitted In Accordance With Paragraph 15 (A) Of The Annex To Human Rights Council Resolution 5/1, Congo, para. 39, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/WG.6/17/COG/1, Jul 25, 2013. Amnesty Intl., Death Penalty: Countries Abolitionist in Practice, http://www.amnesty.org/en/death-penalty/countries-abolitionist-in-practice, last accessed Feb. 26, 2014.
[6] U.N.G.A. Human Rights Council, Report of the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances : Addendum : Mission to the Republic of the Congo, para. 30, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/19/58/Add.3, Jan. 29, 2012.
[7] U.N.G.A. Human Rights Council, Report of the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances : Addendum : Mission to the Republic of the Congo, para. 30, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/19/58/Add.3, Jan. 29, 2012.
[8] Presidential Decree of Congo portant remise des peines et prononcé de grâces, art. 1, No. 007-394, Aug. 17, 2007.
[9] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2011, p. 47, ACT 50/001/2012, Mar. 27, 2012.
[10] U.N.G.A., 67th Session, Promotion and Protection of Human Rights: human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, paras. 95-96, U.N. Doc. A/67/457/Add.2, Dec. 8, 2012. U.N.G.A., 67th Session, 60th Plenary Meeting, pp. 16-17, U.N. Doc. A/67/PV.60, Dec. 20, 2012. U.N.G.A., 65th Session, Promotion and Protection of Human Rights: human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, p. 5, U.N. Doc. A/65/456/Add.2, Dec. 8, 2010. U.N.G.A., 65th Session, 71st Plenary Meeting, pp. 18-19, U.N. Doc. A/65/PV.71, Dec. 21, 2010. U.N.G.A., 63rd session, Promotion and Protection of Human Rights: human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, U.N. Doc. A/63/430/Add.2, Dec. 4, 2008. U.N.G.A., 63rd Session, 70th Plenary Meeting, pp. 16- 17, U.N. Doc.A/63/PV.70, Dec. 18, 2008. U.N.G.A., 62nd Session, Promotion and Protection of Human Rights: human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, U.N. Doc. A/62/439/Add.2, Dec. 5, 2007. U.N.G.A., 62nd Session, 76th Plenary Meeting, pp. 16- 17, U.N. Doc. A/62/PV.76, Dec. 18, 2007.
[11] FIACAT & ACAT Congo, Contribution au 2e examen du Congo, p. 7, http://www.upr-info.org/IMG/pdf/js1_upr17_cog_f_main.pdf, Mar. 2013.
[12] U.N.G.A. Human Rights Council, Universal Periodic Review, Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review, Congo, para. 79, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/12/6, Jun. 5, 2009.
[13] U.N.G.A. Human Rights Council, National Report Submitted In Accordance With Paragraph 15 (A) Of The Annex To Human Rights Council Resolution 5/1, Congo, p. 21, paras. 140-141, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/WG.6/5/COG/1, Feb. 23, 2009.
[14] U.N.G.A. Human Rights Council, Universal Periodic Review, Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review, Congo, paras. 111.8-18, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/25/16, Jan. 6, 2014.
[15] U.N.G.A. Human Rights Council, National Report Submitted In Accordance With Paragraph 15 (A) Of The Annex To Human Rights Council Resolution 5/1, Congo, para. 39, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/WG.6/17/COG/1, Jul 25, 2013.
[16] U.N.G.A. Human Rights Council, Report of the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances : Addendum : Mission to the Republic of the Congo, para. 30, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/19/58/Add.3, Jan. 29, 2012.
[17] Penal Code of Congo, art. 36, Mar. 29, 1836, updated through to Aug. 2001, in Codes d’Audience, Recueil de codes et textes usuels, Editions Giraf, Aug. 2001.
[18] Constitution of the Republic of Congo, art. 80, Jan. 20, 2002.
[19] Criminal Procedure Code of Congo, art. 624, Law No. 1-63, Jan. 13, 1963, updated through to 2003.
[20] Presidential Decree pronouncing commutations (Décret presidential portant remise des peines et prononcé de grâces), art. 1, No. 007-394, Aug. 17, 2007.
[21] Criminal Procedure Code of Congo, arts. 198, 220, Law No. 1-63, Jan. 13, 1963, updated through to 2003.
[22] Criminal Procedure Code of Congo, arts. 223-236, 251, Law No. 1-63, Jan. 13, 1963, updated through to 2003.
[23] Criminal Procedure Code of Congo, art. 232, Law No. 1-63, Jan. 13, 1963, updated through to 2003.
[24] Criminal Procedure Code of Congo, art. 262, Law No. 1-63, Jan. 13, 1963, updated through to 2003.
[25] Criminal Procedure Code of Congo, arts. 299, 300, Law No. 1-63, Jan. 13, 1963, updated through to 2003.
[26] Criminal Procedure Code of Congo, arts. 303-304, Law No. 1-63, Jan. 13, 1963, updated through to 2003.
[27] Criminal Procedure Code of Congo, art. 305, Law No. 1-63, Jan. 13, 1963, updated through to 2003.
[28] Law Organizing Judicial Power (Loi portant organisation du pouvoir judiciaire), art. 145, Law No. 022-92, Aug. 20, 1992, as amended by Law No. 19-99, Aug. 15, 1999.
[29] Criminal Procedure Code of Congo, art. 198, Law No. 1-63, Jan. 13, 1963, updated through to 2003.
[30] Criminal Procedure Code of Congo, art. 530, Law No. 1-63, Jan. 13, 1963, updated through to 2003.
[31] Criminal Procedure Code of Congo, arts. 512-513, Law No. 1-63, Jan. 13, 1963, updated through to 2003.
[32] Criminal Procedure Code of Congo, art. 548, Law No. 1-63, Jan. 13, 1963, updated through to 2003.
[33] Criminal Procedure Code of Congo, art. 542, Law No. 1-63, Jan. 13, 1963, updated through to 2003.
[34] Criminal Procedure Code of Congo, art. 560, Law No. 1-63, Jan. 13, 1963, updated through to 2003.
[35] Criminal Procedure Code of Congo, art. 563, Law No. 1-63, Jan. 13, 1963, updated through to 2003.

Death Penalty In Practice

Where Are Death-Sentenced Prisoners incarcerated?

By the end of our research, we found no information on where death-sentenced prisoners are incarcerated in Congo. There are 17 prisons (“maisons d’arrêt”) throughout the country. [1] However the Criminal Court, which has the jurisdiction to try serious criminal offenses, [2] sits in Brazzaville, [3] so it is likely that death-sentenced prisoners are held in the capital.

Description of Prison Conditions

We found no information on prison conditions for prisoners under sentence of death, but detention conditions generally are harsh and life-threatening and violate international standards.

In November 2012, the human rights organization OCDH (Observatoire congolais des droits de l’Homme) published a report concluding that torture had become routine in prisons across the country. Some cases result in murder, and many cases are never reported. Perpetrators are largely immune from prosecution. [4]

Overcrowding is a serious problem, as is the age of prison infrastructures. The prisons of Brazzaville and Pointe Noire, two of the largest cities in the country, were built in the 1960s to house 150 and 75 inmates respectively. As of November 2012, they accommodated 700 and 300 prisoners. [5]

Prisoners are said to live in “inhumane conditions” without adequate sanitation, healthcare and food. Many lack latrines and plumbing and defecate in cans or bags. [6] Cells have insufficient ventilation. Prisoners lack potable water, bedding and sometimes any form of lighting. [7] Cell walls are filthy and humid. Prison roofs do not adequately protect prisoners from the weather, and one report describes the situation of inmates during the rainy season as “unimaginable.” [8] Prisoners sleep on the floor among sewage water, rats, insects and mosquitoes. [9]

The health of prisoners is severely compromised by these conditions, and prisoners are affected by malaria, tuberculosis, and skin diseases. [10] Not all prisons have functioning infirmaries, and those that do have inadequate medical staff and supplies. Prisoners with serious illnesses are transferred to hospitals too late – especially if their families are poor – and once at the hospital, many prisoners are disregarded. These practices result in many deaths. The situation is reportedly better in the central prison of Brazzaville, where the Ebina Foundation provides medical treatment to prisoners. [11]

In the context of these inhumane and degrading conditions, it is, however, the lack of food which spurred several prisoner hunger strikes in 2010 and 2011, including at the central prison of Brazzaville. Prisoners rely on their families to supplement their diet. Foreign nationals, far from their families, are particularly vulnerable. [12]

Pretrial detainees and convicted prisoners are held together, as are individuals held for minor and serious or violent offenses. Minors are not isolated from adults in 16 of the country’s 17 prisons. [13] Well-connected prisoners such as government employees may be held separately from the rest of the prison population and under better conditions. [14] Conditions are reportedly better for women, who are generally held separately from men, [15] but in at least one prison, the women’s quarters are so dilapidated that they are no longer functional. [16]

Visits are only allowed with a judge’s permission, and a new permit must be obtained for each visit. Visitors often have to bribe prison authorities. [17]

The dilapidated state of prison buildings facilitates escape, which is reportedly common. [18]

There are rules allowing prisoners to bring complaints before the judiciary, but this right is not respected in practice. [19] Most prisoners are not aware of their legal rights. [20]

An older report from 2006 notes that sexual violence is pervasive and contributes to the spread of HIV among the prison population. [21]

Are there any known foreign nationals currently under sentence of death?

We found no reports of foreigners under a sentence of death. [22]

What are the nationalities of the known foreign nationals on death row?

We found no reports of foreigners under a sentence of death. [23]

Are there any known women currently under sentence of death?

We found no reports of any women under sentence of death.

Are there any reports of individuals currently under sentence of death who may have been under the age of 18 at the time the crime was committed?

We found no reports of juveniles under a sentence of death. No juveniles have been executed since 1990, when Amnesty started tracking juvenile executions. [24]

Comments regarding the racial/ethnic composition on death row

In its 2009 concluding observations, the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination expressed concerns over discrimination towards Pygmies in terms of access to justice. It also noted reports of “domination, discrimination and exploitation to which the Pygmies are subjected, at times including modern forms of slavery.” [25] We could not ascertain, however, whether these discriminating practices have ever affected the ethnic composition of death row.

Are there lawyers available for indigent defendants facing capital trials?

The Criminal Procedure Code states that the Criminal Court will appoint lawyers to defendants not yet represented by counsel. [26] Furthermore, a 1984 law provides that legal aid will be provided for all cases brought before “popular courts, the Supreme Court, and special courts. [27] However, according to the ADHUC (Association pour les Droits de l’Homme et l’Univers Carcéral) a Congolese human rights organization, the legal aid system is not functional in Congo. [28] The 1984 law provides that lawyers’ fees will be fixed by decree, [29] but no such decree was ever issued. [30] Further implementing legislation is also required to regulate the operation of legal aid offices. [31]

Are there lawyers available for indigent prisoners on appeal?

A1984 law provides free legal assistance for indigent defendants on appeal, including before the Supreme Court. [32] However, according to the ADHUC (Association pour les Droits de l’Homme et l’Univers Carcéral), a Congolese human rights organization, implementing regulations have not been promulgated and legal aid in Congo is not functional. [33] The 1984 law provides that lawyers’ fees will be fixed by decree, [34] but no such decree was ever issued. [35] Further implementing legislation is also required to regulate the operation of legal aid offices. [36]

Comments on Quality of Legal Representation

According to the ADHUC (Association pour les Droits de l’Homme et l’Univers Carcéral), a Congolese human rights organization, the legal aid system is not functional in Congo. [37] A 1984 law reorganizing legal aid provided that lawyers’ fees would be fixed by decree, [38] but no such decree was ever issued. [39] Further implementing legislation is also required to regulate the operation of legal aid offices. [40]

There are reports of at least one case in which lawyers were imprisoned and tortured as a direct result of representing a high profile criminal defendant. Ambroise Hervé Malonga, the former president of the Bar of Brazzaville, was imprisoned and tortured between April and July 2012 for representing a senior member of the military who was implicated in an explosion at an army munitions dump which caused 300 deaths in March 2012. [41] His other lawyer, Gabriel Hombessa, was also arrested. Both counsel were charged with crimes against the security of the state (“atteinte à la sûreté extérieure de l’Etat) after attempting to hold a press conference denouncing the authorities’ denial of their client’s right to receive visits. [42]

The Code of Criminal Procedure guarantees to detainees the right to be visited by legal counsel. However in practice, legal visits are only granted if an influential third party intervenes or if human rights organizations organize an effective media campaign. [43]

With only 140 licensed members of the Congolese bar, [44] which works out to 1 lawyer for every 30,000 inhabitants, there might also be a shortage of lawyers to represent criminal defendants.

Other Comments on Criminal Justice System

Human rights organizations report that the justice system is gravely dysfunctional. Courts are characterized by their slowness, their lack of independence and their degree of corruption. Court files and evidence are routinely lost, and the secrecy of courts’ deliberations is not respected. The police and local administrations sometimes take it upon themselves to come to decisions which should fall to the judiciary. The public’s loss of confidence in the justice system results in many people taking their grievances to neighborhood “courts.” [45] In a 2012 report, the human rights group Observatoire Congolais des Droits de l’Homme noted that judicial facilities were dilapidated and lacked basic office equipment (such as pens and binders) and furniture, resulting in case files being kept on the floor. Files are handwritten and not computerized, which slows down the review process. [46]

Due to the lack of financial independence of the courts, the courts of appeal do not hold regular sessions for criminal matters and have gone as long as 5 years without hearing any criminal cases. Meanwhile, individuals continue to be detained in high numbers given the frequent use of arrest and detention, even for minor offenses. As of November 2012, no criminal appeals had been heard in the capital, Brazzaville, since 2010. [47] Outside of the capital, moreover, the lack of judicial personnel is so severe that the situation has been described as “chaos.” [48]

The length of pre-trial detention in police stations, limited by law to 48 hours, extends in practice to 6 to 12 months, and usually only after the detainee’s family requests an intervention by the prosecution. [49] This practice turns police stations into de facto detention centers and forces the police into prison guard roles for which they are not trained. [50]

Authorities have recently tried to improve the professionalism of police forces and provided some training in 2013 on the prevention of human rights abuses. [51]

References

[1] Observatoire Congolais des Droits de l’Homme (OCDH), Les conditions de détention et de garde à vue en République du Congo: Rapport final, http://blog.ocdh.org/post/2012/11/21/LES-CONDITIONS-DE-DETENTION-ET-DE-GARDE-A-VUE-EN-REPUBLIQUE-DU-CONGO, Nov. 21, 2012.
[2] Criminal Procedure Code of Congo, art. 198, Law No. 1-63, Jan. 13, 1963, updated through to 2003.
[3] Criminal Procedure Code of Congo, art. 216, Law No. 1-63, Jan. 13, 1963, updated through to 2003.
[4] IRIN, Congo : Torture Commonplace in Prisons - Report, http://www.irinnews.org/report/96726/congo-torture-commonplace-in-prisons-report, Nov. 6, 2012. FIACAT & ACAT Congo, Contribution au 2e examen du Congo, pp. 4-5, http://www.upr-info.org/IMG/pdf/js1_upr17_cog_f_main.pdf, Mar. 2013.
[5] IRIN, Congo-Brazzaville: Congo Prisons Chief Admits Shortcomings in Wake of Damning Report, All Africa, http://allafrica.com/stories/201301180430.html, Jan. 17, 2013.
[6] IRIN, Congo-Brazzaville: Congo Prisons Chief Admits Shortcomings in Wake of Damning Report, All Africa, http://allafrica.com/stories/201301180430.html, Jan. 17, 2013.
[7] Observatoire Congolais des Droits de l’Homme (OCDH), Les conditions de détention et de garde à vue en République du Congo: Rapport final, p. 24, http://blog.ocdh.org/post/2012/11/21/LES-CONDITIONS-DE-DETENTION-ET-DE-GARDE-A-VUE-EN-REPUBLIQUE-DU-CONGO, Nov. 21, 2012.
[8] Observatoire Congolais des Droits de l’Homme (OCDH), Les conditions de détention et de garde à vue en République du Congo: Rapport final, pp. 23-24, http://blog.ocdh.org/post/2012/11/21/LES-CONDITIONS-DE-DETENTION-ET-DE-GARDE-A-VUE-EN-REPUBLIQUE-DU-CONGO, Nov. 21, 2012.
[9] Observatoire Congolais des Droits de l’Homme (OCDH), Les conditions de détention et de garde à vue en République du Congo: Rapport final, p. 24, http://blog.ocdh.org/post/2012/11/21/LES-CONDITIONS-DE-DETENTION-ET-DE-GARDE-A-VUE-EN-REPUBLIQUE-DU-CONGO, Nov. 21, 2012.
[10] Observatoire Congolais des Droits de l’Homme (OCDH), Les conditions de détention et de garde à vue en République du Congo: Rapport final, pp. 24-25, http://blog.ocdh.org/post/2012/11/21/LES-CONDITIONS-DE-DETENTION-ET-DE-GARDE-A-VUE-EN-REPUBLIQUE-DU-CONGO, Nov. 21, 2012.
[11] Observatoire Congolais des Droits de l’Homme (OCDH), Les conditions de détention et de garde à vue en République du Congo: Rapport final, pp. 26-27, http://blog.ocdh.org/post/2012/11/21/LES-CONDITIONS-DE-DETENTION-ET-DE-GARDE-A-VUE-EN-REPUBLIQUE-DU-CONGO, Nov. 21, 2012.
[12] Observatoire Congolais des Droits de l’Homme (OCDH), Les conditions de détention et de garde à vue en République du Congo: Rapport final, p. 26, http://blog.ocdh.org/post/2012/11/21/LES-CONDITIONS-DE-DETENTION-ET-DE-GARDE-A-VUE-EN-REPUBLIQUE-DU-CONGO, Nov. 21, 2012.
[13] Observatoire Congolais des Droits de l’Homme (OCDH), Les conditions de détention et de garde à vue en République du Congo: Rapport final, p. 21, http://blog.ocdh.org/post/2012/11/21/LES-CONDITIONS-DE-DETENTION-ET-DE-GARDE-A-VUE-EN-REPUBLIQUE-DU-CONGO, Nov. 21, 2012.
[14] U.S. Dept. of State, 2013 Human Rights Reports : Republic of the Congo, http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2013/af/220102.htm, Feb. 27, 2014.
[15] U.S. Dept. of State, 2013 Human Rights Reports : Republic of the Congo, http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2013/af/220102.htm, Feb. 27, 2014.
[16] Observatoire Congolais des Droits de l’Homme (OCDH), Les conditions de détention et de garde à vue en République du Congo: Rapport final, p. 23, http://blog.ocdh.org/post/2012/11/21/LES-CONDITIONS-DE-DETENTION-ET-DE-GARDE-A-VUE-EN-REPUBLIQUE-DU-CONGO, Nov. 21, 2012.
[17] U.S. Dept. of State, 2013 Human Rights Reports : Republic of the Congo, http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2013/af/220102.htm, Feb. 27, 2014.
[18] Observatoire Congolais des Droits de l’Homme (OCDH), Les conditions de détention et de garde à vue en République du Congo: Rapport final, p. 24, http://blog.ocdh.org/post/2012/11/21/LES-CONDITIONS-DE-DETENTION-ET-DE-GARDE-A-VUE-EN-REPUBLIQUE-DU-CONGO, Nov. 21, 2012.
[19] U.S. Dept. of State, 2013 Human Rights Reports : Republic of the Congo, http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2013/af/220102.htm, Feb. 27, 2014.
[20] Observatoire Congolais des Droits de l’Homme (OCDH), Les conditions de détention et de garde à vue en République du Congo: Rapport final, p. 33, http://blog.ocdh.org/post/2012/11/21/LES-CONDITIONS-DE-DETENTION-ET-DE-GARDE-A-VUE-EN-REPUBLIQUE-DU-CONGO, Nov. 21, 2012.
[21] IRIN, Congo: Decay, disease, violence stalk convicts, http://www.irinnews.org/report/59040/congo-decay-disease-violence-stalk-convicts, May 17, 2006.
[22] Mark Warren, Foreigners under sentence of death worldwide, http://users.xplornet.com/~mwarren/world.html, Jan. 19, 2013.
[23] Mark Warren, Foreigners under sentence of death worldwide, http://users.xplornet.com/~mwarren/world.html, Jan. 19, 2013.
[24] Amnesty Intl., Executions of juveniles since 1990, http://www.amnesty.org/en/death-penalty/executions-of-child-offenders-since-1990, last accessed Feb. 27, 2014.
[25] U.N. International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination Committee on the Elimination of Racial discrimination, Considerations of Reports Submitted by State Parties under Article 9 of the Convention, Concluding observations of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, Congo, p. 4, para. 15, U.N. Doc. CERD/C/COG/CO/9, Mar. 23, 2009.
[26] Criminal Procedure Code of Congo, art. 242, Law No. 1-63, Jan. 13, 1963, updated through to 2003.
[27] Law on the Reorganization of Legal Aid (Loi portant réorganisation de l’assistance judiciaire), art. 3, Law No. 001-84, Jan. 20, 1984.
[28] Chanel Loubaky Moundele, affiliated with Association pour les Droits de l’Homme et l’Univers Carcéral, Congo, e-mail to DPW, DPW Doc. Congo E-1, Nov. 16, 2010.
[29] Law on the Reorganization of Legal Aid (Loi portant réorganisation de l’assistance judiciaire), art. 1, Law No. 001-84, Jan. 20, 1984.
[30] Chanel Loubaky Moundele, affiliated with Association pour les Droits de l’Homme et l’Univers Carcéral, Congo, e-mail to DPW, DPW Doc. Congo E-1, Nov. 16, 2010.
[31] Chanel Loubaky Moundele, affiliated with Association pour les Droits de l’Homme et l’Univers Carcéral, Congo, e-mail to DPW, DPW Doc. Congo E-1, Nov. 16, 2010.
[32] Law on the Reorganization of Legal Aid (Loi portant réorganisation de l’assistance judiciaire), arts. 3, 21, Law No. 001-84, Jan. 20, 1984.
[33] Chanel Loubaky Moundele, affiliated with Association pour les Droits de l’Homme et l’Univers Carcéral, Congo, e-mail to DPW, DPW Doc. Congo E-1, Nov. 16, 2010.
[34] Law on the Reorganization of Legal Aid (Loi portant réorganisation de l’assistance judiciaire), art. 1, Law No. 001-84, Jan. 20, 1984.
[35] Chanel Loubaky Moundele, affiliated with Association pour les Droits de l’Homme et l’Univers Carcéral, Congo, e-mail to DPW, DPW Doc. Congo E-1, Nov. 16, 2010.
[36] Chanel Loubaky Moundele, affiliated with Association pour les Droits de l’Homme et l’Univers Carcéral, Congo, e-mail to DPW, DPW Doc. Congo E-1, Nov. 16, 2010.
[37] Chanel Loubaky Moundele, affiliated with Association pour les Droits de l’Homme et l’Univers Carcéral, Congo, e-mail to DPW, DPW Doc. Congo E-1, Nov. 16, 2010.
[38] Law on the Reorganization of Legal Aid (Loi portant réorganisation de l’assistance judiciaire), art. 1, Law No. 001-84, Jan. 20, 1984.
[39] Chanel Loubaky Moundele, affiliated with Association pour les Droits de l’Homme et l’Univers Carcéral, Congo, e-mail to DPW, DPW Doc. Congo E-1, Nov. 16, 2010.
[40] Chanel Loubaky Moundele, affiliated with Association pour les Droits de l’Homme et l’Univers Carcéral, Congo, e-mail to DPW, DPW Doc. Congo E-1, Nov. 16, 2010.
[41] IRIN, Congo : Torture Commonplace in Prisons - Report, http://www.irinnews.org/report/96726/congo-torture-commonplace-in-prisons-report, Nov. 6, 2012.
[42] Observatoire congolais des droits de l’Homme (OCDH), Explosion du dépôt de munitions de Mpila : Le mystère sur ses causes s’alourdit sur fond de mépris des droits humains, http://blog.ocdh.org/post/2012/04/21/Explosion-du-d%C3%A9p%C3%B4t-de-munitions-de-Mpila-%3A-Le-myst%C3%A8re-sur-ses-causes-s%E2%80%99alourdit-sur-fond-de-m%C3%A9pris-des-droits-humains, Apr. 21, 2012.
[43] FIACAT & ACAT Congo, Contribution au 2e examen du Congo, p. 5, http://www.upr-info.org/IMG/pdf/js1_upr17_cog_f_main.pdf, Mar. 2013.
[44] Dunia P. Zongwe, The Legal System of the Republic of Congo (Congo-Brazzaville): Overview and Research, GlobaLex, http://www.nyulawglobal.org/globalex/Congo_Brazzaville.htm, Jan. 2014.
[45] FIACAT & ACAT Congo, Contribution au 2e examen du Congo, p. 6, http://www.upr-info.org/IMG/pdf/js1_upr17_cog_f_main.pdf, Mar. 2013.
[46] Observatoire Congolais des Droits de l’Homme (OCDH), Les conditions de détention et de garde à vue en République du Congo: Rapport final, pp. 10-11, http://blog.ocdh.org/post/2012/11/21/LES-CONDITIONS-DE-DETENTION-ET-DE-GARDE-A-VUE-EN-REPUBLIQUE-DU-CONGO, Nov. 21, 2012.
[47] Observatoire Congolais des Droits de l’Homme (OCDH), Les conditions de détention et de garde à vue en République du Congo: Rapport final, pp. 19-20, http://blog.ocdh.org/post/2012/11/21/LES-CONDITIONS-DE-DETENTION-ET-DE-GARDE-A-VUE-EN-REPUBLIQUE-DU-CONGO, Nov. 21, 2012.
[48] Observatoire Congolais des Droits de l’Homme (OCDH), Les conditions de détention et de garde à vue en République du Congo: Rapport final, p. 20, http://blog.ocdh.org/post/2012/11/21/LES-CONDITIONS-DE-DETENTION-ET-DE-GARDE-A-VUE-EN-REPUBLIQUE-DU-CONGO, Nov. 21, 2012.
[49] FIACAT & ACAT Congo, Contribution au 2e examen du Congo, p. 6, http://www.upr-info.org/IMG/pdf/js1_upr17_cog_f_main.pdf, Mar. 2013.
[50] Observatoire Congolais des Droits de l’Homme (OCDH), Les conditions de détention et de garde à vue en République du Congo: Rapport final, p. 21, http://blog.ocdh.org/post/2012/11/21/LES-CONDITIONS-DE-DETENTION-ET-DE-GARDE-A-VUE-EN-REPUBLIQUE-DU-CONGO, Nov. 21, 2012.
[51] U.S. State Dept., 2013 Human Rights Report : Republic of Congo, http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2013/af/220102.htm, Feb. 27, 2014.

Decisions of International Human Rights Bodies

Decisions of Human Rights Committee

The U.N. Human Rights Committee issued its most recent Concluding Observations pursuant to Congo’s periodic reporting in April 2000, but did not comment on the issue of death penalty in Congo. [1] Congo’s latest report to the Committee was due in March 2002 but as of February 2014, it had not been filed. [2]

Decisions of Other Human Rights Bodies

At its 2013 Universal Periodic Review before the U.N. Human Rights Council, Congo stated that it was “de facto abolitionist” since it had not carried out any executions since 1982, and that abolition was “under consideration, taking into account change in attitude towards the matter.” [3] Belgium noted that despite the absence of executions, Congo had not implemented its commitments regarding capital punishment from its previous UPR. [4] Congo again supported recommendations to abolish the death penalty and ratify the Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR. [5]

At its 2009 Universal Periodic Review, Congo supported recommendations to abolish the death penalty and consider accelerating the ratification of the second optional protocol to the ICCPR. [6] It also supported the recommendation to open inquiries into all allegations of torture, to ensure the independence of the judiciary, and to review conditions in all detention facilities with a view to ensuring their compliance with the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners. [7]

References

[1] U.N. ICCPR Human Rights Committee, Consideration Of Reports Submitted By States Parties Under Article 40 Of The Covenant, Concluding observations of the Human Rights Committee, Republic of the Congo, U.N. Doc. CCPR/C/79/Add.118, Apr. 25, 2000.
[2] U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Report Status by Country, http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2013/af/220102.htmhttp://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf/NewhvVAllSPRByCountry?OpenView&Start=1&Count=250&Expand=39.2#39.2, last accessed Feb. 26, 2014.
[3] U.N.G.A. Human Rights Council, Universal Periodic Review, Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review, Congo, para. 70, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/25/16, Jan. 6, 2014.
[4] U.N.G.A. Human Rights Council, Universal Periodic Review, Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review, Congo, para. 77, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/25/16, Jan. 6, 2014.
[5] U.N.G.A. Human Rights Council, Universal Periodic Review, Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review, Congo, paras. 111.8-18, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/25/16, Jan. 6, 2014.
[6] U.N.G.A. Human Rights Council, Universal Periodic Review, Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review, Congo, para. 79, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/12/6, Jun. 5, 2009.
[7] U.N.G.A. Human Rights Council,Universal Periodic Review, Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review, Congo, para. 79, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/12/6, Jun. 5, 2009.

Additional Sources and Contacts

Direct member(s) of World Coalition Against the Death Penalty

Mouvance des Abolitionnistes du Congo Brazzaville (Cercle de Protection de l’Environnement)
Mr. Clément Yvon Alexis Mouandza, President
Mr. Gatien Clotaire, Relations externes
10 rue Moundzombo Ouénzé
14975 Brazzaville
République du Congo
abolitionnistes@yahoo.fr
Tel:+242 055380681

Other non-governmental organizations and individuals engaged in advocacy surrounding the death penalty

Observatoire Congolais des Droits de l’Homme (OCDH) (Congolese Observatory of Human Rights)
32 avenue des Trois Martyrs
Immeuble Ntiétié, 1er étage
Place de la station de bus de Jane Vialle Moungali
B.P. 4021 BRAZZAVILLE, CONGO
Tel: + (242) 553 15 73
http://blog.ocdh.org

Association pour les Droits de l’Homme et l’Univers Carcéral (ADHUC) (Association for Human Rights and the Penitentiary System)

ACAT Congo

Helpful Reports and Publications

FIACAT & ACAT Congo, Contribution au 2e examen du Congo (Submission to 2d Universal Periodic Review), http://www.upr-info.org/IMG/pdf/js1_upr17_cog_f_main.pdf, Mar. 2013.

Intl. Federation for Human Rights & the Congolese Observatory of Human Rights, Report, Legal and Judicial Cooperation Programme, Republic of Congo, Deceptions and recurring violations of human rights, No. 384/2, May 2004.

Additional notes regarding this country

None.

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