Comunità di Sant'Egidio
La Comunità di Sant’Egidio esprime in una lettera il suo sostegno all’attività del Pastore Masters a favore dell’abolizione della pena capitale per i minorenni.
The Community of Sant’Egidio backs “Under our wings” and the Rev. Masters, calling for the abolition of the death penalty for the juveniles.
To the attention of Reverend Thomas Masters
President of UNDER OUR WINGS
Dear Reverend Masters,
On this special day in which the world celebrates the necessity of overcoming discrimination against women, while we are campaigning from Rome, in front of Capitol Hill - where civil rights have seen steps forward for more than 2000 years - , calling for the freedom of Amina Lawal who was sentenced to death by stoning in Nigeria for having given life to a baby outside the marriage, I am writing to our fellow-organization Under Our Wings to confirm our commitment at your side to put an end to executions, namely the executions of juvenile offenders.
The fight against the death penalty has become an important issue in the realm of international relations. In much of the world, the struggle is associated with the search for true justice, which does not seek vengeance but rather rehabilitation.
The Community of Sant’Egidio, as you well know, started a few years ago a worldwide campaign calling for a Universal Moratorium on Executions, and its Appeal has been signed by more than 4,5 million people in 152 countries in the world, many of them retentionist countries. For the first time, under the initiative of an Ngo based in Rome, with branches and 40,000 activists in more than 60 countries in the world, who volunteer at the side of the poorest of the planet, in peacemaking initiatives and human rights campaigns, in ecumenical and interfaith understanding, it has been possible to create an international moral front for life, against the death penalty. It includes leaders of all world religions and denominations, from the Dalai Lama to many Cardinals and Bishops, Catholics and Protestants, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists and Moslems, and secular opinion leaders as well (including Nobel Peace Prizes and personalities, like Michail Gorbacev, Roberto Benigni and others).
The worldwide campaign Cities for life-Cities Against the Death penalty launched as well by the Community of Sant’Egidio, has created an active link among more than 80 cities in the world, which have donated the symbolic logo of their city (the Colosseum in Rome, the Atomium in Brussels and so on) as living testimonials for life. On November 30th 2003 a great world event will link the world to increase humanity awareness on the necessity of a higher level of justice and respect of human life in the world. I know that you, your organization, as a sister organization of Sant’Egidio Community in Florida and America, will give its contribution to this important goal.
Despite difficulties, the movement’s spread indicates an unrelenting global trend away from recourse to capital punishment, a penalty increasingly considered to be an obsolete – and never indispensable - instrument of justice, and one which always risks becoming unjust because of human error as well as because of social, political, religious or racial discrimination.
In many parts of the world, and within the consciences of many individuals, capital punishment is increasingly considered to be an irreparable violation of the sacredness of life and of human dignity; it impoverishes and offers no defence to the institutions and societies that apply it. It humiliates the dignity of societies and states lowering them at the level of those who offend other people’s life. Its abolishment is seen in wider and wider parts of the world as part of a high and demanding conception of democracy: and we do hope that this feeling is to be shared soon by the majority of our brothers and sisters in America.
Standards of decency in a civilized society are evolving and the US Supreme court has solemnly expressed this change deliberating that retarded people and the mentally ill defendants, who should understand the charges against themselves, participate in their defence and move basic decisions at trial and about whether to accept plea agreements, not only have little chance to have a full awareness of what they are accused of, but also of defending themselves in an fair way. All this, by all means, applies to juvenile offenders at the time of the crime, and for sure, at children. It is a shameful practice, and a real relic of the past to prosecute children and teen-agers, and to deal with them as they were adults, whatever they can be accused of.
I am writing to you to encourage you and Under Our Wings to spread as much as you can the call for an end to the executions of juvenile offenders in Florida and in America also on behalf of the Communities of Sant’Egidio in the world, in the name of millions of people, who love American people, in the world.
Community of Sant’Egidio