Community of Sant’Egidio
THE DEATH PENALTY FRONT WEAKENS AFTER THE APPROVAL
OF THE THIRD RESOLUTION FOR A UNIVERSAL MORATORIUM BY
THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE UNITED NATIONS
The UN General Assembly approved for the third time (109 in favor, 41 against, 35 abstentions, 7 absences) a resolution calling for a universal moratorium on the death penalty as a step towards complete abolition. The duty of all judicial systems to strictly respect human life has once again been solemnly reaffirmed and the international community has confirmed that the obliteration of the death penalty is one of its objectives. Moreover the decision sets a new threshold of respect for human rights, no longer compatible with application of the death penalty.
The growing number of co-sponsoring countries and the favorable vote of countries like Mongolia, the Maldives, Vanuatu, Bhutan and Somalia, which had voted against the resolution in the past, furthermore confirms that the death penalty is on the wane on the continent with the highest number of executions in the world just when news arrives that China's Supreme Court is considering further actions to limit the death penalty against people over 75 years of age.
The Community of Sant'Egidio, which has worked for the end of executions in Central Asia from Uzbekistan to Kazakhstan and taken direct actions with the presidents of Mongolia and the Maldives, expressed satisfaction for significant changes in Asia and positive developments taking place in Africa, the continent characterized by the most rapid reduction of the number of countries in favor of capital punishment.
The vote of the United Nations is an extraordinary result and confirms a general trend towards the end of capital punishment. Algeria’s vote in favor of the Resolution, the abstention of 7 Arab countries and of countries like Cuba, where death sentences have gradually been commuted in recent years (as in the recent case of Cruz Leon or the commutations in 30 years' imprisonment of almost all of the death penalties handed down in 2008 in Cuba) and the ratification of the abolitionist Optional Protocol 2 by Kyrgyzstan, are considered important steps in that direction.
Executions are diminishing every year worldwide. In India there are less than 200 people on death row and executions in the United States fell to their lowest level in more than a decade. 46 people were executed in the past year, compared with 80 in 2000. The state of California has the largest death row population in the world, with 697 prisoners, as executions have dropped to below one per year, while the smallest death rows are in Wyoming and New Hampshire, with only one inmate.
There are growing difficulties in supplying the drug needed for the lethal injection. The Community of Sant'Egidio welcomes the tentative agreement reached by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs with the company Hospira in Liscate aimed at preventing the use of the drug Pentothal (sodium thiopental) for executions in the U.S. and worldwide. This is an agreement on which the Community of Sant'Egidio has worked directly with other national and international humanitarian organizations to obtain this agreement, which must become binding with mandatory penalties and economic sanctions against both intermediaries and distributors.
A step forward for justice and for a culture of life.
Community of Sant’Egidio
Piazza di S.Egidio 3/a – 00153 Roma - Tel +39.06585661 - Fax +39.065883625
www.santegidio.org Email – [email protected]