Comunità di Sant'Egidio
A GREAT STEP TO CONTRIBUTE AND ACCELERATE THE PROCESS OF STOPPING AND ABOLISHING THE DEATH PENALTY IN THE GREATER CARIBBEAN. Madrid, October 17th-19th 2011
In Madrid, promoted and organized by the Community of Sant’Egidio, sponsored by the Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores y Cooperacion of Spain, in collaboration with International Academic Network for the Abolition of Capital Punishment, the Coalition Puertorriquena, the Collegio de Abrogados de Puerto Rico, the International Commission Against the Death Penalty, Death Penalty Project, the First International Conference on the Death Penalty in the Greater Caribbean has taken place on October17th-19th.
The Conference was attended by Human Rights Activists and NGOs, scholars from the Greater Caribbean, special witnesses, organizations and individuals representing the cultural diversity of the Caribbean, meeting with international players from other parts of the world to develop strategies in support of the Abolition of the Death Penalty in the Greater Caribbean.
The Participants express the concern at the fact that countries in the Greater Caribbean lag behind the rest of the world in the movement towards suspension and abolition of the death penalty, when 141 countries have stopped using this ineffective, obsolete, degrading and inhumane instrument of justice.
In the Caribbean there are 25 countries out of which 9 are abolitionist for all crimes (Colombia, Costa Rica, Domincan Republic, Haiti, Honduras, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Panama and Mexico). One only is abolitionist for ordinary crimes, El Salvador.
Two are de facto abolitionist, Grenada and Suriname, because they have not carried executions in the last 10 years (last execution in Grenada in 1978 and in Suriname in 1982), and because they do not attempt to.
13 countries are retentionist, out of which 11 from Commonwealth (Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, Bahamas, Dominica, Guyana, Jamaica, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and Grenadines, Trinidad ad Tobago, Cuba, Guatemala), highlighting that executions are rare but that have not stopped in the area: the last one being carried in St Kitts and Nevis in December 2008.
While recognizing the high levels of violence and crime from which the Region suffers, the Participants, nevertheless, reaffirm the important principle of maintaining respect for fundamental human rights and call for the adoption of the guidelines of the UN resolution on “Moratorium on the use of the death penalty”, towards total abolition to close the still existing gap to the rest of the world.
On these aspects the participants to the Conference call upon the states of Caribbean Region to revise their position and to back the Resolution that is to be submitted in 2012 at the UNGA.
The International conference has tackled the need to support the victim’s families and find proper ways to lower the appalling crime rates, without creating new victims such as the family members of people sentenced to death and executed.
The Participants call upon the Governments and Peoples of the Greater Caribbean to re-affirm their commitment to the observance of International Human Rights principles, in particular the fundamental human right to life.
The Participants further Appeal to the Governments of Caribbean States to adhere to the Inter-American Convention on Human Rights and to accept the binding jurisdiction of the Inter-American Court on Human Rights.
The International Conference on the Death Penalty in Greater Caribbean experienced a costructive way of networking together at all levels to increase a new way of administrating justice and promoting security, always respecting human life. We have taken the decision to give birth to a first Caribbean Network Against the Death Penalty to empower the single organizations and the member states of Caribbean Region, to fasten the road to abolition in the whole area.
Madrid, October 19th 2011