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December 18 2007 | VIAREGGIO, ITALY



The Community of Sant'Egidio salutes this event, fundamental for the defence of life

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Statement by Mario Marazziti, spokesman of the Community of Sant’Egidio and coordinator of the world campaign for a universal moratorium of the death penalty.

“A historic step. The approval of the resolution in favour of a universal moratorium of the death penalty by the General Assembly of the United Nations marks a decisive step towards the establishment of a system of justice capable of respecting life in every circumstance, a system of justice without death. It is a milestone which sets a new overwhelmingly accepted moral standard, destined to become more and more difficult and embarrassing to ignore on an international level. It is a sign of important change in the conscience of the world, which to a growing degree considers state-inflicted death unacceptable and humiliating. It marks a fundamental change of attitude, just as the end of slavery did in the past.

The 15 year long effort by retentionist countries to keep the the resolution from being presented and approved testifies to the historic nature of the event. This is the beginning of a new phase in which the United Nations is called upon to monitor the application of the resolution. A phase in which the end of executions becomes an objective for the international community and not just the organizations active in the battle to defend in every circumstance.

“Approval of the resolution represents a decisive contribution toward the acceleration of the process which has registered, since the 1990’s, more than 50 countries that have abolished the death penalty and in many retentionist countries its application has been limited. Just as there is growing respect for human life e growing doubts about the effectiveness and correctness of its application, even in countries with advanced systems of justice which still have capital punishment on its books.

“It is a victory for the world and for life, a victory for the defence of dignity and of human rights. It is a victory that came from an extraordinary synergy between European and non-European governments and non government organizations NGO’s, a truly cross-regional decades long effort to develop a way of thinking capable of envisioning a system of justice without death. The hard efforts of countries like Italy, France, the European Union would not have been so effective had it not received the contributions of the co-sponsors of the resolution, including Mexico, Brazil, New Zealand, Gabon and the Philippines. It is a victory that also marks the end of the years-long split between supporters of a moratorium and supporters of full abolition, the creation of a united front, which the Community of Sant’Egidio worked hard to achieve and which represented a crucial step towards the approval of the resolution and the setback for capital punishment in the world. The Community of Sant’Egidio had worked hard for years to achieve this victory, along with other leading anti-death penalty organizations, in the framework of the international campaign led by the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty (WCADP) active in the world campaign.

To celebrate the approval of the resolution by the General Assembly, the Community of Sant’Egidio calls on all 750 Cities for Life to light up, with special effects, their defining monuments, starting with the Colosseum in Rome, in a Festival of Life on December 24 And 25.

Mario Marazziti is in New York and can be reached for interviews and more detailed information on his mobile phone +39 335 726 3641 - +39 346 850 1247 and by email/blackberry at [email protected]

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