Sunday, February 28, 2010

Spanish Prime Minister calls for the abolition of the death penalty worldwide by 2015

(UN Video)

SOUNDBITE (Spanish) Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, Prime Minister, Spain:
My friends we have 5 years to achieve our goal -- to stop executions around the world: If we work together it is a goal within our reach.

Addressing the World Congress Against the Death Penalty meeting in Geneva today, the Prime Minister of Spain, whose country currently holds the presidency of the European Union, said it was unfortunate that today numerous countries still continue to apply the death penalty.

The two-day congress, organized by the French NGO Ensemble together with the Swiss government, and the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty, aimed to persuade more countries to sign up to a United Nations (UN) moratorium on the death penalty.

Referring to the death penalty as state sanctioned murder, Bianca Jagger, goodwill ambassador for the Council of Europe said she was shocked at the continued application of the death penalty in the United States (US), saying only when the US got its own house in order can it claim to stand for freedom and justice.

The Norwegian Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, Gry Larsen, said the world was at a turning point with an ever growing shift towards abolition. 138 countries have outlawed the death penalty but it still exists in 58 countries, including the US and Japan.

The death penalty exists in 35 of the 51 states in the US said Elizabeth Zitrin, US representative of the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty. Case by case defense lawyers had tried their best to defy the death penalty but that a universal moratorium was needed.

The World Congress Against the Death Penalty is a triennial opportunity to bring together abolitionist groups and strengthen the international dimension of the fight against the death penalty.

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