Within the framework of PRI’s project “Progressive Abolition of the Death Penalty and Alternatives that Respect International Human Rights Standards”, PRI’s Middle East and North Africa office conducted two specialised training workshops in Tunisia and Lebanon between 1 and 6 October 2011 with the financial support of the European Union.
PRI trains civil society in Tunisia
On 1 and 2 October 2011, Penal Reform International convened a death penalty workshop in Tunisia. Approximately 34 participants attended including judges, representatives of the National Human Rights Organisations, civil society / non governmental organisations including Amnesty International, journalists, lawyers and law students, and members of the public.
The aim of the workshop was to increase public awareness on abolition of the death penalty, to highlight the available alternative sanctions, to support the existing moratorium (an unofficial moratorium has been in place in Tunisia since 1991), and to discuss the constitutional process and how it might be used to move Tunisia towards full abolition in law. The workshop also highlighted the steps and actions needed to strengthen the capacity of civil society, including the media, on advocacy efforts to support progressive abolition.
The workshop concluded by launching an advocacy campaign which will start after the election of the Tunisian Constitute Assembly in 23rd October 2011 and will target the members of the assembly and the general public through different media outlets, and campaign materials which will clarify the legal, political and social arguments as to why the death penalty should be abolished. The campaigning activities will be funded by the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office
PRI trains journalists in Lebanon
On 5 and 6 October 2011, Penal Reform International held a workshop on the abolition of the death penalty with journalists and bloggers in Lebanon.
The aim of the workshop was to enhance the technical capacity of journalists on issues linked to the death penalty, alternative sanctions and criminal justice issues, both within the Middle East and North African region as well as globally.
The workshop increased awareness by journalists of the legal arguments behind the death penalty and the situation regarding Lebanon (both from a historical and present day perspective), including to support the existing moratorium (an unofficial moratorium has been in place in Lebanon since 2004).
Participants were able to practice data collection and drafting articles and blogs on various criminal justice issues applicable to a Lebanese audience. Advocacy strategies and targets were highlighted to underscore how journalists and bloggers can contribute to the abolitionist movement in their country.
One of the main results of the workshop was the creation by participants of a plan of action to contribute to advocacy efforts towards abolition in Lebanon and to establish a network to share information and stories regarding the death penalty. The workshop also called for the adoption of the draft law calling for abolition in Lebanon.
PRI’s current programme of work on the abolition of the death penalty and alternative sanctions that respect international human rights focuses on supporting governments and other stakeholders in progressing towards abolition and implementation of human rights standards in criminal justice systems, particularly concerning the treatment of death row, life and long-term prisoners. The programme of work is being carried out in five regions: the Middle East and North Africa, Eastern Europe, South Caucasus, Central Asia and the Great Lakes region of East Africa.
The programme is supported by the European Union’s Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR).