Togo: Fifteenth country in Africa to abolish the death penalty
Togo today decided to abolish the death penalty following a unanimous vote by the national assembly. Togo has thereby become the 15th member of the African Union and the 94th country in the world to abolish the death penalty for all crimes. “This country has chosen to establish a healthy justice system that limits judicial errors…and guarantees the inherent rights of the individual,” said Justice Minister Kokou Tozoun when the cabinet first adopted the abolition bill on 10 December 2008. “This (new) system is no longer compatible with a penal code that maintains the death penalty and grants the judiciary absolute power with irrevocable consequences.” Togo stopped applying the death penalty more than three decades ago. The last executions of people sentenced to death date back to 1978 and the last death sentence was handed down in 2003. Through today’s vote, Togolese members of parliament have reinforced the trend towards abolishing the death penalty in Africa. Burundi adopted a new penal code in April 2009 which abolished the death penalty from the legislation. Several other countries, notably Mali, are reviewing their legislation and considering the possibility of removing any recourse to the death penalty.