Jan 23, 2007

UNPO: The Death Penalty Must Order its Final Meal

- 3rd World Congress against the Death Penalty Concludes in Paris
- Sign the Appeal for a Universal Moratorium on the Death Penalty

The 3rd World Congress against the Death Penalty

The Third World Congress against the Death Penalty assembled abolitionists from around the world in Paris from 1 to 3 February 2007. This Congress aimed to build on the successes of previous Conferences in Strasbourg and Montreal, and included statements and addresses from a number of European Leaders, including Mr Jacques Chirac, President of the French Republic, and Madam Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany.  Focusing in particular on recent successes with respect to bringing a Resolution calling for a moratorium on all executions before the UN General Assembly, the Final Declaration of the Congress urges all attending parties and states to mobilise their resources in support of this campaign.

[Read the Final Declaration]

European Parliament Resolution in Favour of Moratorium

The European Parliament is the latest international body to express its support for a universal moratorium on the death penalty, adopting a joint resolution with 591 votes in favour, 45 against, and with 31 abstentions. The Resolution condemns the death penalty as cruel and inhumane, and underlines that its abolition is a core value of the European Union. As such, it calls upon all member states to support and facilitate the presentation of an appropriate resolution to the UN General Assembly.

[Read the Resolution]

Abkhazia Abolishes Death Penalty

Below is a Declaration issued by the Foreign Ministry of the Republic of Abkhazia through the Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Maxim Gunija;

Since the end of the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict, there have been 10 sentences of death in Abkhazia, though never implemented. A moratorium on executions has therefore effectively been in place for a decade already. However, following effective local campaigning, several international initiatives against the death penalty, and a series of constructive round table discussions, the issue has been discussed by the Parliament of Abkhazia, which has taken the right decision to put an end to the death penalty, thus reaffirming Abkhazia’s adherence to international standards of human rights and their protection.

The Foreign Ministry of Abkhazia fully supports the initiative of the Italian Government to bring to the United Nations General Assembly a resolution calling for a moratorium on all executions, and considers this another positive step towards a global campaign to put an end to all executions and the use of the death penalty worldwide.

Maxim Gunija
Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs

Republic of Abkhazia

Petition for Universal Moratorium on all Executions

At present almost 11,000 individuals from around the world have signed a petition expressing support for a campaign organised by the Non-Violent Radical Party, conveying to the United Nations Secretary General the sentiment that “after the abolition of slavery and the banning of torture, the right not to be killed following a legal sentence could be another common denominator, a new inalienable aspect of being human that makes us one family.” UNPO urges you to express your support, and;

Sign the Appeal for a Universal Moratorium on Executions

International Campaign Against the Death Penalty

The outrage that has followed the execution of Saddam Hussein, one of recent history’s most ruthless criminals, has laid bare the contradictions inherent in the still widespread practice of the death penalty. The deplorable conditions of the execution, despite the inhumanity and cruelty of his crimes, has drawn near universal condemnation from the international community, and prompted renewed reflection upon the dignity of state sanctioned executions in the modern era of human rights and democracy.

European Parliamentarians and Leaders of the Council of Europe have not hidden their opposition, and despite initial reports to the contrary, incoming United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was quick to urge restraint and express regret at the execution of the former dictator. It is however Italy’s accession to the United Nations Security Council that has served most forcefully to reawaken the issue of a universal moratorium on all executions.

Non-Violent Leader Spearheads Campaign

Leader of the Italian Non-violent Radical Party and President of Hands Off Cain, Mr. Marco Pannella MEP has, by holding a hunger strike and 8-day thirst strike, emerged as the leader of the movement in favour of such a moratorium. His aim is the presentation of a resolution calling for a moratorium on all executions to be presented to the UN General Assembly.

In response to Mr. Pannella’s initiative, Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi has confirmed that Italy intends to use its seat on the Security Council as a means of pursuing this aim, echoing the growing sentiment that "no crime can justify one person killing another." This is a view backed by the UN sanctioned International Criminal Court in The Hague, which though trying individuals for the worst crimes against humanity, refrains from imposing the penalty of death.

UN Special Rapporteurs Issue Joint Condemnation

In a marked display of unity, three United Nations Special Rapporteurs have also expressed their opposition to the practice of the Death Penalty. After emerging as a vocal critic of the execution of Saddam Hussein, Philip Alston, the UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions, was joined by Leandro Despouy, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, and Manfred Nowak, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, in issuing a joint condemnation of Iran’s persistent use of executions as a means of punishing its dissidents.

Urgent Appeal to Save Ahwazi Arabs

The three Rapporteurs made explicit reference to the fate of seven men belonging to the minority Ahwazi Arab community in Iran, a long standing UNPO Member. On 8 January their families were informed that their men were to be executed following highly secretive trials that fell well short of internationally recognised standards for justice. Three men tried as part of the same group have already been executed.

The show of unity displayed by the three Human Rights Council Experts underlines the extent to which the death penalty continues to add fuel to the spiral of violence and human rights violations that plague many of the world’s most beleaguered conflict regions. “Inhumane and barbaric, the death penalty remains incompatible with the most basic respect for human life”, states UNPO General Secretary Mr. Marino Busdachin. He adds: “It continues also to function as a weapon of reprisal and fear in oppressive states, where UNPO Members, such as the Ahwazi Arabs, continue to struggle for the satisfaction of their most basic human rights.”

UNPO therefore strongly supports the campaign for a universal moratorium on all executions, believing that this is an integral step in the process of securing a genuinely universal system of human rights, without which the prospects for peace, reconciliation, and justice will remain permanently overshadowed by the willingness of States to take Human Life.


Additional Information:

[UNPO Campaign to halt execution of Ahwazi Arabs]
[Statement issued by UN Special Rapporteurs]
[Hands Off Cain Appeal to UN for Universal Moratorium]
[Non-Violent Radical Party Hunger Strike Campaign]