So just why has the Community of Sant’Egidio, organized an annual Meeting in Rome for the past 9 years, inviting Justice Ministers worldwide, to discuss possible perspectives regarding the abolition of the death penalty? This is not an "academic exercise", or a celebratory event. On the contrary, it is a free space where in the spirit of dialogue, which is a distinctive feature of the initiatives of Sant'Egidio, several paths that may lead to a more realistic and humane justice are evaluated together.
Already the path we have all walked together during these years is long and we can see to-day, the bearing of fruit in the achievements of the Congress of Justice Ministers being promoted by the Community of Sant’Egidio. In chronological order, Mongolia is the most recent country to abolish the death penalty on December 4th 2015, thanks also to this prior work.
On February 22nd and 23rd, the Secretary of State for Justice of Mongolia will be one of the above 30 participants (Ministers and Delegates), coming from African, Asiatic, Latin American and European Countries. Some of those countries have already abolished the death penalty some years ago. For ex-ample (El Salvador, Rwanda, East Timor, Togo); other Countries (Central African Repub-lic, Mali, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka) have suspended the executions and at the General As-sembly of the United Nations voted in favour of a moratorium; however some other Coun-tries are still retentionist (Vietnam and Somalia).
In times of widespread war, a subject like this one, can make it perfectly natural to look for short term results. It is far easier to pursue simplified solutions and just search for a scape-goat, in the name of security. But terrorism raises (and fuels) the level of violence in the world and urges public opinion to line up “ in favor of “, or “ against it “ type scenarios. And “ against it " sometimes can mean just to suppress "the violent one", even physically. The images of the barbaric executions, graphically shown in the videos of Daesh, promote a culture of death in the society. And that's the aim and a focus of global terrorism: to disseminate fear.
But to surrender to violence is only to play into the hands of fear. And the death penalty, the extreme expression of a violent culture, does not help to fight crime. Capital punishment – as demonstrated by many reports and statistics - is not an effective deterrent nor does it diminish the number of crimes committed. It doesn't guarantee lowering the levels of criminality or a better security and adds only more violence and more death. And especially in a State which kills in the name of the law, it only lowers the level of its legal system to the same level as the perpetrator of the crime! This is why it is necessary to renew the commitment for the defense of life and give a new impulse to the fight for the abolition of the death penalty.
The Congress of Rome will be an important opportunity to offer support and provide legal assistance and support to those states beginning a path towards the abolition or suspension of the death penalty. To reaffirm our core values….If we continue to value the sacredness of life and to promote a culture of peace, we can displace fear, which in these difficult times, risks to prevail in many choices of many people.
This event will be broadcast and streamed live from www.santegidio.org, starting at 10:00 on Monday February 22nd.
The video of the event will also be available at a later time on the Youtube channel of the Community of Sant'Egidio