Wednesday, February 27 – Opening Ceremony

10 am - 1 pm Official Opening Ceremony 
Hemicycle of the European Parliament in Brussels


The Opening Ceremony of the 7th World Congress Against the Death Penalty will be dedicated to the next steps towards abolition. It is the privileged place of expression for States and intergovernmental organisations willing to testify on their international commitment and progresses in their countries regarding the struggle against the death penalty.


Opening remarks by the co-sponsors of the Congress

  • Pavel Telička, Vice-President of the European Parliament
  • Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy
  • Didier Reynders, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Affairs, Kingdom of Belgium
  • Pascale Baeriswyl, State Secretary of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, Swiss Confederation
  • Audun Halvorsen, State Secretary to Minister of Foreign Affairs, Kingdom of Norway


  • Introduction by the moderator: Margherita Sforza, journalist


Introduction of the 7th World Congress Against the Death Penalty

  • Raphaël Chenuil-Hazan, Executive Director of ECPM (Together Against the Death Penalty) & Aminata Niakate, Board member of ECPM
  • Video Message of His Holiness Pope Francis
  • Artistic performance : Vanessa Place, writer and attorney, United States


Messages in support of the abolitionist struggle – Panel of representatives of international organisations and governments

  • Video message of Antonio Guterres, United Nations Secretary General
  • Navanethem Pillay, President of the International Commission Against the Death Penalty (ICDP) and United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights from 2008 to 2014
  • Message from Louise Mushikiwabo, Secretary-General of the International Organisation of la Francophonie (OIF), read by Georges Nakseu Nguefang, Director of Political Affairs and Democratic Governance of OIF
  • Keynote speaker : Aramis Ayala, State Attorney for the Ninth Judicial Circuit Court of Florida, United States
  • Artistic performance : Typh Barrow, singer, Belgium


Next commitments towards abolition

  • Thalatha Atukorale, Minister of Justice and Prison Reforms, Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka
  • Jean-Claude Gakosso, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Republic of Congo
  • Cheick Sako, Minister of State, Minister of Justice, Republic of Guinea
  • Bessolé René Bagoro, Minister of Justice, Human Rights and Civic Promotion, Burkina Faso
  • Abubacarr M. Tambadou, Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Republic of the Gambia
  • Mohamed Aujjar, Minister of Justice, Kingdom of Morocco
  • Djimet Arabi, Minister of Justice, Republic of Chad (TBC*)


  • Keynote speaker : Ndume Olatushani, former death row prisoner, United States


  • Presentation of the World Congress’s programme : Nouzha Skalli, member of the scientific committee of the 7th World Congress Against the Death Penalty


  • Launch of the 7th World Congress Against the Death Penalty by the video message of Robert Badinter, Honorary Chair of ECPM, Former Minister of Justice who abolished the death penalty in France in 1981, French Republic