MADRID: 5TH WORLD CONGRESS AGAINST THE DEATH PENALTY
In a message, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon hailed the growing momentum against capital punishment, while voicing concern that a small number of States continue to impose the death penalty, often in violation of international standards.
Mr. Ban noted that the full abolition of the death penalty has support in every region and across legal systems, traditions, customs and religious backgrounds.
Currently, more than 150 States have either abolished the death penalty or do not practice it. Last year, 174 United Nations Member States were “execution-free,” he said.
“Despite these positive trends, I am deeply concerned that a small number of States continue to impose the death penalty, and thousands of individuals are executed each year, often in violation of international standards,” said the Secretary-General.
“Some countries with a longstanding de facto moratorium have recently resumed executions,” he noted.
Mr. Ban also pointed out that information concerning the application of the death penalty is often cloaked in secrecy, and that the lack of data on the number of executions or the number of individuals on death row “seriously impedes” any informed national debate that may lead to abolition.
“The taking of life is too absolute and irreversible for one human being to inflict on another, even when backed by a legal process. Too often, multiple layers of judicial oversight still fail to reverse wrongful death penalty convictions for years and even decades,” he said.
This problem, he added, will be discussed at a UN panel in New York at the end of this month.
The UN General Assembly first voted on a moratorium in 2007, and again in December 2012, when it adopted a resolution calling for a progressive restriction on the use of capital punishment and eliminating it entirely for felons below the age of 18 and pregnant women.
Although not legally binding, the UN moratorium on executions carries moral and political weight.
During the opening ceremony, Swiss Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter said his country is at the forefront and is committed to the abolition of death penalty. In a plenary session Burkhalter said Switzerland seeks to have those countries which have not as yet abolished the death penalty at least place a moratorium on its use.
“It is a priority in Switzerland, we need to take a pragmatic approach and ensure a world without death penalty,” he said.
Burkhalter said capital punishment was incompatible with the values represented by Switzerland and had an impact on the country’s other obligations such as the prohibition of discrimination.
Together with Spain, France and Norway, Switzerland is patron of the 5th World Congress against the Death Penalty which is hosting around 1,500 delegates from over 90 states in Madrid until Saturday (June 15).
According to Norway which is represented at the Congress by the Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs Gry Larsen it will support multi stakeholder’s initiatives like the work of the International Commission on Death Penalty, International Bars Associations and Universities.
“It has taken the political leadership to abolish the death penalty and in almost all of the countries the public have been against when we have taken the decisions in our countries to the vote but what we have seen in our countries is that when we have used the political leadership the public have followed. We don’t wait for the people we have to lead,” she said.
Hands Off Cain was present at the conference with Senator Marco Perduca.
For further information : http://congres.abolition.fr/?lang=en