The abolition of the death penalty (DP) is a multifaceted issue encompassing various challenges across countries, including the following: (a) DP abolition efforts face opposition from those who believe the death penalty serves as a just form of punishment for heinous crimes; (b) DP is wrongly perceived in some countries and groups as a deterrent against future crimes; (c) Keeping DP is perceived in some societies as a sign of strong political leadership; (d) Widespread support for capital punishment makes it challenging for policymakers to advocate for its abolition; (e) Abolishing DP requires legal reforms and changes in the judicial systems of countries that practice capital punishment, involving revising legislation, training judges and lawyers, and establishing alternative sentencing practices; (f) DP is contemplated by international human rights instruments and standards, but not all countries are signatories to relevant treaties.

Significant progress has been made towards the abolition of the death penalty in the last 20 years, with most countries having abolished capital punishment either in law or in practice. However, the ten most populous countries in the world are still retentionist, meaning roughly 2/3 of the world’s population is still under DP. Most Asian countries and half of African countries retain it. Many remaining retentionist countries are typically more entrenched in their position than those that became abolitionists in recent years. Global abolition requires a multifaceted, delicate, and continuous intervention at all levels—international, regional, and national—encompassing sustained advocacy, education, and legal reform efforts.

Out of the 55 countries where DP remained in force at the end of 2021, 9 were African and 7 were in South-East Asia and applied it regularly. Trends in African and Asian countries suggest a general advance towards abolition, as illustrated by recent abolition decisions in Sierra Leone, Equatorial Guinea, the Central African Republic, and India, and the elimination of compulsory DP in Malaysia.

The World Coalition Against the Death Penalty (WC) was created in 2002 as a result of the commitment made by the signatories of the Final Declaration of the First World Congress Against the Death Penalty, organized by the French NGO Ensemble contre la peine de mort (ECPM) in Strasbourg in June 2001. It is an alliance of more than 160 Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), bar associations, local authorities, and unions.

The aim of WC is to strengthen the international dimension of the fight against the death penalty, with the objective of achieving its universal abolition. To reach this goal, WC advocates for a definitive end to death sentences and executions in countries where the death penalty is in force. In some countries, it seeks to reduce the use of capital punishment as a first step towards abolition.

The intervention “Securing the abolition of the death penalty in Africa and in countries at risk” emanates from strands of work already pursued by WC. On one hand, the “Africa Abolition Project,” covering 21 countries in sub-Saharan Africa to contribute to the abolition of the death penalty, has been jointly implemented with FIACAT (International Federation of Christians Against Torture) since 2015. On the other hand, the “Countries at Risk Project” covers the Philippines, Maldives, Sri Lanka, and Turkey.

This intervention has a total budget of EUR 1,608,850, with an EU contribution of EUR 1,496,231 and a duration of 48 months. It has been financed within the framework of the call for proposals of the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR), under Lot 2 "Supporting the fight against the death penalty” and focuses on four target countries: Niger, Uganda, Philippines, and Taiwan.