Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Report from the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty meeting

This photo shows the steering committee of the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty, whose members come from Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and the United States. MVFHR is a member of the steering committee, and Renny Cushing (seated, far right) attended the annual meeting in Paris a few weeks ago. Renny reports that the Coalition will be focusing its efforts on Asia in the coming year, and on China in particular. The international death penalty abolition movement is hoping to take the opportunity of China's hosting the 2008 Olympics to urge the country toward greater transparency about its death penalty practices and toward some meaningful reforms.

Another interesting note from the steering committee meeting is that the newly formed Arab Coalition Against the Death Penalty just joined the World Coalition. This group, based in Jordan, is a program of Penal Reform International. Here's a press release that the group sent out expressing its support for the UN Resolution calling for a worldwide moratorium on executions:

The Arab Coalition against the Death Penalty (ACADP) welcomes the resolution of the UN General Assembly calling on all states which have not so far abolished the death penalty to suspend its application as a first step towards its abolition.

The ACADP believes that this UN resolution will strengthen human rights and will give further support to international and regional efforts to oppose the death penalty particularly those of the World Coalition against the Death Penalty as well as the regional and national coalitions.

The ACADP commends all those states that supported the resolution establishing a formal moratorium on the death penalty and applauds in particular Algeria’s courageous position in voting for the resolution in the face of continuous terrorist attacks.

The ACADP expresses regret that some Arab states which have been observing an informal moratorium on the death penalty for more than ten years absented themselves while others abstained from voting on the resolution. Furthermore, it calls upon all Arab States to strictly observe the resolution.

The ACADP will continue its endeavours to restrict the application of the death penalty and will continue working with governments and the civil society to reduce the number of cases punishable by death with a view to abolishing the death penalty as it represents the most inhuman punishment and violates the sanctity of human life.

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