Friday, February 23, 2007

3rd World Congress against Death Penalty

Final declaration of the 3rd World Congress against the Death Penalty

Paris, 1-3 February 2007

Assembled in Paris from 1 to 3 February 2007, on the initiative of Ensemble contre la peine de mort (Together against the Death Penalty), supported by the World Coalition against the Death Penalty,

We, citizens and representatives of civil society and public authorities, meeting in even greater number than at the first two World Congresses against the Death Penalty in Strasbourg in 2001 and Montreal in 2004, adopt this Declaration at the conclusion of discussions involving some 30 debates as well as testimonies, analyses and exchanges of experiences and strategies.

We welcome the fact that the death penalty is receding in the world and that since the Montreal Congress Greece, Kyrgyzstan, Liberia, Mexico, the Philippines and Senegal have abolished capital punishment, while no country has re-introduced it. We regret that, during the same period, some countries have resumed executions after prolonged moratoria, such as Bahrain in 2006, and that the death penalty is still applied on a large scale in a number of countries including China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, the United States and Vietnam. We strongly condemn the initiatives in some abolitionist countries to reintroduce the death penalty and demand in particular that the Peruvian authorities renounce this effort.

We recognise that the process of abolition must be accompanied by a better consideration of the needs of victims and by an in-depth reflection on penal policy and prison systems, in the framework of an equitable and restorative justice.

We demand with one voice the end throughout the world of justice that kills. No authority has the right to strike out a person’s life. We recall that the death penalty is a cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, that it is contrary to human rights, that it has no utility in the fight against crime, and that it always represents a failure of justice.

The 3rd World Congress against the Death Penalty adopts the following recommendations:

1. We call on all countries to abolish the death penalty and to ratify international and regional abolitionist treaties, especially the Second Optional Protocol to the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

2. Following on from the statement at the UN General Assembly in December 2006, which was supported by an unprecedented number of countries from around the world, we solemnly appeal to all states of the world to stop all executions immediately.

Recognizing the great value that a successful resolution adopted by the UN General Assembly would have for the abolition of the death penalty worldwide, we invite the member states of the United Nations to take all necessary steps to ensure the adoption by the General Assembly of a resolution
- calling for an immediate and universal moratorium on death sentences and executions and the commutation of existing death sentences, with a view to the universal abolition of the death penalty;
- recalling that the death penalty violates human rights and fundamental freedoms; and
- encouraging the UN, its member states, and other relevant international, regional and sub-regional organisations to support the implementation of this moratorium, including through mobilizing resources and expertise.

We call on the citizens of the world to sign the petition, launched by the Sant’Egidio Community and supported by the World Coalition against Death Penalty, which has already attracted over five million signatures, in favour of a worldwide moratorium on executions.

3. We welcome the presence in Paris of many abolitionists from North Africa and the Middle East and their efforts to create national, sub-regional and regional coalitions. We hail the initiatives taken in Morocco, Lebanon and Jordan towards abolition and call on the countries of the region to abolish the death penalty.

4. Welcoming the presence in Paris of Chinese abolitionists, we call on the Chinese government, in the prospect of the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008 and the Shanghai Universal Exposition in 2010, to establish an immediate moratorium on executions with the objective of progressively abolishing the death penalty, and in particular to remove non-violent offences, including economic and drug offences, from the scope of capital punishment.

As, moreover, the Chinese Supreme Court from 1 January 2007 is to review all death sentences imposed by courts of first instance, we call on the Chinese authorities to remove the secrecy surrounding the administration of the death penalty.

5. We welcome the fact that, since the Strasbourg Congress in 2001, the world abolitionist movement has structured itself, with full respect for the diversity of its members, around the World Coalition against the Death Penalty, which was created in 2002 and now includes over 50 organisations.

We call on organisations and institutions that share the objective of abolition – non-governmental organisations, bar associations, trade unions and local governments - to join the World Coalition.

We call on abolitionists of the whole world to take part each year in the World Day against the Death Penalty, which will focus in 2007 on China in the Prospect of the Olympic Games and in 2008 on Teaching Abolition. We call on all regional and international organisations, and the European Union in particular, to adopt 10 October as an official day in favour of universal abolition.

We call on the cities of the world to take part in Cities for Life on 30 November each year.

Finally, we call on members of parliament of the whole world, whose powers include that of voting for abolition, to sign this Declaration.

Paris, 3 February 2007

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