About the death penalty project

For more than 20 years, the Death Penalty Project has worked to promote and protect the human rights of those facing the death penalty. Although the project operates in all jurisdictions where the death penalty remains an enforceable punishment, its actions are concentrated in those countries which retain the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in London and in other Commonwealth countries, principally in the Caribbean, Africa and Asia.

The Project’s main objectives are to promote the restriction of the death penalty in line with international minimum legal requirements; to uphold and develop human rights standards and the criminal law; to provide free and effective legal representation and assistance for those individuals who are facing the death penalty, and to create increased awareness and encourage greater dialogue with key stakeholders on the death penalty.

The provision of free legal representation to men and woman on death row has been critical in identifying and redressing a significant number of miscarriages of justice, promoting minimum fair trial guarantees, and establishing of domestic and international human rights.

Some of the Project’s landmark cases which have restricted the implementation of death penalty in the Caribbean include Pratt & Morgan v Attorney General of Jamaica [1994] 2 AC 1, Lewis v the Attorney General of Jamaica [2001] 2 AC 50, Reyes v the Queen [2002] AC 235, The Queen v Hughes [2002] 2 AC 259, Fox v Queen [2002] 2 AC 284 and Bowe & Davis v the Queen {2006] 1WLR 1623. Other landmark cases include Mutiso v Republic, Judgment of the Court of Appeal at Mombasa, July 2010 (abolition of the mandatory death penalty for murder in Kenya); Attorney General v Kigula et al. judgment of the Supreme Court of Uganda, January 2009 (abolition of the mandatory death penalty and delay on death row in Uganda); Kafantayeni et al v Attorney General 46 ILM 564 (2007), (abolition of the mandatory death penalty in Malawi)  and Boyce et al v Barbados,  20th November 2007 decision of the Inter-American Court (savings clause, mandatory death penalty and prison conditions found to be in violation of the American Convention Human Rights).

In the last 20 years, the Death Penalty Project has submitted numerous complaints to the United Nations Human Rights Committee, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and Inter-American Court of Human Rights on behalf of prisoners concerning their treatment and conditions of detention.


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