Together Against the Death Penalty (Ensemble contre la peine de mort – ECPM) has equipped itself with a charter setting out its values and aims. ECPM Director, Raphaël Chenuil-Hazan, tells us more.

Why, after more than 10 years of existence, has ECPM decided to write up a charter ?

When we reflected on the best strategy for ECPM to adopt going forward we asked ourselves many questions about our identity and our ways of working. It was then that we decided we were missing a charter which would guide our work. The association’s various statutes that provide the basis for our objectives no longer seemed sufficient. We have come a long way over the 14 years since the creations of ECPM, our scope is wider and our targets and partnerships have multiplied. It therefore seemed necessary to redefine our fundamental principles. Thus, at our last annual meeting, the decision was made to create a committee tasked with writing the ECPM’s first charter.

What values and duties does the chart set out ?

The chart clarifies ECPM’s raison d’etre: creating networks. As our name indicates, the principle of “togetherness” is at the heart of our existence. It is also important to remember that ECPM is the founding association of the World Coalition and the World Congress against the Death Penalty. Furthermore, the charter allows us to put our militant objectives into perspective with a clear cut assertion of the futility of capital punishment. It is from here that we drew our founding values of “human”, “justice”, “commitment”, “audacity”.

“Audacity” is perhaps the most unexpected of these values. Is audacity essential for fighting the death penalty ?

Absolutely. Audacity is what defines our association since its creation in 2000 and it is a principle we would like to keep sight of whilst we become increasingly professional. Professionalization shouldn’t be a synonym of rigidity, sluggishness and inertia. Keeping our reactiveness, innovation and daring is essential for our future. Thus far we have shown ourselves to be trailblazers and we must stay that way.
Before ECPM dared to launch the first World Congress against the Death Penalty, nobody thought it could work. Even before ECPM was created, no organisation had dared to dedicate itself entirely to the universal abolition of capital punishment. It was ECPM who dared to create a global platform for abolitionists, from the largest global organisations such as Amnesty International, to the smallest organisations often fighting in very difficult contexts.
ECPM also dared to denounce the 2008 “Our Body” exhibition which displayed butchered and eviscerated Asian bodies, seemingly Chinese people who had been put to death. We followed the issue back to the organisers who were convicted, thus creating an important legal precedent.
Today ECPM’s audacity is shown in making connections with Members of Parliament in the Arab world. We work in true partnership with diplomats, notably in the framework of the “Core Group”, a group of abolitionist countries who support the World Congress, and facilitate the political action which surrounds these meetings.

How will the charter be used ?

The charter was designed to be a reference point for all those engage in, or work alongside, ECPM. Internally, the charter should be a framework for employees, representatives and volunteers. Externally, it should act as a common basis for our work with partners. It is a document allowing people to identify themselves and confidently carry out their work. The text will doubtless be referred to when we sign our next partnership agreements. It allows us to lay out our identity in black and white.

The charter opens with a quote from Albert Camus. What motivated this choice ?

Albert Camus, throughout his whole life and works, represents a sincere and total commitment to the fight against the death penalty. His literature is infused with abolitionist culture. Victor Hugo would also have been a strong, pertinent choice, but the works of the 20th century Nobel Prize Winner, Camus, seemed even more universal and contemporary.

Interview by Camille Sarret
Translation by Rebecca Bell