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Death penalty - Community of Sant'Egidio: satisfaction for the new step towards abolition

December 17 2020

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In the most difficult post-war year, the vast majority of countries in the world took sides against the death penalty. Yesterday's vote at the UN General Assembly confirms, for abolitionists, a growing trend for the eighth time since 2007, with 123 votes in favor of the universal moratorium (2 more than in the last vote), 38 against and 24 abstentions. It was not taken for granted, in the year of the pandemic, marked by strong generosity, but also strong closures, and also by the resumption of federal executions decided by the American administration close to the elections, after 17 years of moratorium, and the confirmation of six executions before of the handover to President-elect Joe Biden, which promises an important turning point.

The Community of Sant’Egidio, which in recent months has been in dialogue with various countries to achieve a positive result, rejoices at the decisions of a large part of Africa and of all those states that have allowed this new step forward. It is the result of a patient multilateral work, on several levels, which is accompanying an epochal change. Suffice it to think that we have gone from an opposition to the death penalty of just 16 countries in the 1970s to the current 142 that no longer use it, by law or in fact, and to yesterday’s UN result. The Community of Sant'Egidio especially congratulates Africa, which is driving change. The valuable work was done in synergy, among others, with Burkina Faso, Central Africa Republic, the Republic of Congo and Guinea Conakry. Sant’Egidio welcomes the change of the vote of Zimbabwe and South Sudan from opposition to abstention, the result of direct contacts. In Asia, the sensitive work together with other actors with South Korea, Malaysia and the Philippines, contributed to the vote in favor of the moratorium. In countries with a multi-religious context such as Indonesia, Sant’Egidio approached various religious communities through dialogue.