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June 13 2013 | MADRID, SPAIN

Sant'Egidio at the World Congress for the Abolition of the Death Penalty

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The World Congress against the Death Penalty of the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty will take place in Madrid from 12 to 15 June.

The Congress, which is held every three years, brings together the main Associations that fight for the abolition of capital punishment and feel the need to take stock of the situation.

The goal, as it reads in an interesting article from El País of 10 June, is "to mobilise society on this issue in order to achieve the final impetus" and El Pais continues, "The defence of human rights has sometimes followed a tortuous road, but a legal body has consolidated little by little and hardly anyone questions it as a guarantee of universally recognised human rights." Europe has played an important role in the construction of this road thanks to the support of a few governments.

It should be remembered that the Italian Parliament and Government had done a great job during the past years, which contributed to the approval of the resolution on the moratorium on the death penalty in the UN General Assembly Headquarters in 2007. But these results would not have been achieved without the hard work and specific commitment of Associations and NGOs, which have built new realities and initiatives from the bottom. Thus it is necessary even today to give space and listening to the realities committed to the issue.

Today the governments of Spain, Switzerland, France and Norway support the extension process of the abolition of the death penalty

The world has made great progress in the matter of respect of human rights. In the middle of the 1990s, when the Community of Sant'Egidio began to fight for the abolition of the death penalty, there were  one hundred countries that had already abolished the death penalty in law or in fact. Today their number has risen to 145. The Community of Sant'Egidio has contributed to this development since 1998 by promoting an Appeal for a Universal Moratorium, a moral manifesto that was submitted to the United Nations together with over five million signatures from 153 countries on the eve of the vote on the historic Resolution of the year 2007.

 The abolitionist commitment of the Community of Sant'Egidio continues  to encourage and protect the countries that still maintain the death penalty on the path towards abolition of capital punishment and to operate both at the governmental level, in direct contacts with political representatives and international conventions of Ministers of Justice, and by supporting civil society. A significant part of the commitment of Sant'Egidio is made of the practical defence of prisoners on death row, the correspondence with more than 1,500 men and women who are on death row and the spread of the World Campaign of "cities for life", which today brings together more than 1,600 cities around the world, linked by the rejection of capital punishment as a method of justice.

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