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The death penalty in West Africa: Progress and setbacks

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Amnesty International has released its Death Sentences and Executions report for 2015. The review of the situation in West Africa reveals notable differences in how countries in the region view the use of the death penalty both in law and in practice. Five countries in the region have abolished the death penalty in the law for all crimes (Cape Verde, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea-Bissau, Senegal and Togo); eight countries are abolitionist in practice, meaning they have not carried out any executions for at least 10 years (Benin, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Sierra Leone); and four are retentionist countries where executions still occur (Chad, Gambia, Guinea and Nigeria). The report states that the situation in the region, where 232 death sentences were handed down in eight countries in 2015, has generally improved due in particular to a significant decrease in the number of death sentences recorded in Nigeria (171 death sentences in 2015 compared to 659 in 2014). Amnesty International, however, denounces the resumption of executions in Chad (10 in 2015), which previously had not put anyone to death for 12 years. Ten suspected members of Boko Haram were executed by firing squad in August.

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