Among The Charity Awards shortlist announced on Tuesday 7 May is a project that has helped hundreds of prisoners who faced execution to be removed from death row. The Charity Awards are one of the sector’s most prestigious schemes, and the 2013 winners will be announced on 13 June.
The Death Penalty Project has been shortlisted from hundreds of entries in the Advice, support and advocacy category alongside just three other charities. For the last 20 years, the Death Penalty Project (DPP) has provided free legal representation and advice to prisoners under sentence of death around the world. In so doing, the DPP has instructed leading barristers and other experts on a pro bono basis to work on cases. It also provides training and education to doctors and lawyers involved in capital cases and seeks to reform laws on the death penalty.
Working initially in the Caribbean, the DPP has now expanded its work to countries in Asia and Africa saving the lives of hundreds of people who may otherwise have been executed.
In the Caribbean, executions have now been outlawed when there has been a long period spent under sentence of death and the mandatory death sentence for murder has been declared unconstitutional. Executions have since been limited to a few isolated cases and very exacting safeguards for the imposition of the death penalty have been introduced. More than 50 prisoners have had their capital convictions and death sentences quashed and prisoners on death row for more than five years have had their death sentences commuted. Many others have been resentenced.
The DPP has also successfully challenged the mandatory death penalty in a number of African countries. In Malawi in 2007, 30 prisoners then under sentence of death will now be resentenced as the High Court declared their mandatory death sentences unconstitutional. In Uganda in 2009, DPP assisted in a class action for around 900 inmates under sentence of death. To date 12 have been released, 180 had their sentences commuted to life imprisonment and the remaining prisoners are being resentenced.
In Kenya, the DPP assisted in a successful legal challenge to the mandatory death penalty for murder. Whilst the case was underway, President Kibaki commuted the sentences of all those on death row – over 4,000 prisoners. In Nigeria, more than 200 murder convicts will now be resentenced following a High Court challenge to the constitutionality of the automatic death penalty in Lagos State. Similar cases are pending in Tanzania, Zambia and other states in Nigeria.
The DPP is also working in the Asian region both in terms of legal training, research, advice and direct assistance in representing prisoners under sentenced of death. Successful programmes have been implemented in Taiwan, China, Japan and Malaysia. In Singapore, DPP recently assisted local lawyers to challenge the mandatory death penalty and the clemency process. The litigation has prompted the government to abolish the automatic death penalty for certain categories of drug trafficking and homicide, and Malaysia has announced it may follow suit.
And the winner is…
The Death Penalty Project is hoping to pick up the coveted award at a glittering ceremony in London on 13 June. If it wins its category it will also be in the running to pick up the Overall Award for Excellence, which is selected from the 10 category winners.
The Charity Awards is the highest profile event in the charity calendar. All 30 shortlisted charities this year have been judged by an independent panel of sector leaders as having demonstrated outstanding best practice from which other organisations can learn.
Daniel Phelan, organiser of The Charity Awards comments:
“In being shortlisted the Death Penalty Project has demonstrated exceptional performance against as many of the ten hallmarks of excellence as possible. I wish them the best of luck on the night.”
John Low, chief executive of Charities Aid Foundation, overall sponsors of the Charity Awards, comments:
“I would like to congratulate and commend all the shortlisted charities this year, as well as everyone who took the time to submit an application. Once again the calibre of entries was very impressive – at a time when the sector, indeed the country, is under such financial pressure, The Charity Awards gives us all the opportunity to step back, reflect and be inspired.”
Notes to editors:
- The Charity Awards 2013, now in its fourteenth year, is organised by Civil Society Media, publishers of Charity Finance, Fundraising and Governancemagazines and www.civilsociety.co.uk.
- The Charity Awards is sponsored by the Charities Aid Foundation. The Charities Aid Foundation is a charity set up to help other charities by working with donors, companies and charities to encourage and facilitate a culture of giving. They do this by offering products and services that make giving easier, tax efficient and help charities to make the most of donations through their banking and fundraising support services.
- The Charity Awards is also supported by The Times and The Sunday Times.
The distinguished panel of judges for 2013 are:
- Andrew Hind CB, editor of Charity Finance and former chief executive of the Charity Commission
- Dr John Low CBE, chief executive of the Charities Aid Foundation
- Danielle Walker Palmour, director of the Friends Provident Foundation
- Sir Christopher Kelly KCB, chair of the King’s Fund
- Lesley-Anne Alexander CBE, chief executive of RNIB
- Sue Sayer CBE, chief executive of United Response
- Fiona Ellis, member of NCVO Funding Commission and former director of the Northern Rock Foundation
- Anne-Marie Piper, partner at Farrer & Co
- Dorothy Dalton, editor of Governance
- Colin Nee, trustee of the New Economics Foundation and the Karen Woo Foundation
- Bob Reitemeier CBE, chief executive of the Essex Community Foundation
The Hallmarks of Excellence are:
1. Leadership: Inspiration in the pursuit of your objectives, galvanising action within your team and encouraging others by example.
2. People development: A commitment to developing and motivating staff and volunteers at all levels in your organisation.
3. Planning: Developing and following a robust project plan, which is sufficiently detailed but also flexible and responsive to events.
4. Innovation: Imaginative and creative use of original or adapted ideas and techniques. This could involve the application to your work of concepts first applied in other organisations or sectors.
5. Enterprise: New ways of raising new funds or building support, especially from non-traditional sources. New methods of controlling costs, especially administration costs.
6. Learning: A culture of sharing learning and responsiveness to changing needs and attitudes.
7. Impact measurement: The use of appropriate techniques to measure the impact of your activity or organisation.
8. Effectiveness: Being able to show with evidence that you are achieving or exceeding your intended results or ‘outcomes’ and that these results are being achieved cost-effectively.
9. Accountability: A commitment to communicating with volunteers, staff, funders, beneficiaries and the public so that they can understand and influence the progress of your project or initiative and how it meets its objectives.
10. Sustainability: Elements in the management of a project or initiative which will ensure that it takes on a life of its own after the initial input of resources and/or management effort.