Wednesday, October 10, 2007

10/10: World Day Against the Death Penalty

Today, October 10th, is the world day against the death penalty. Last year in China, Iran, the United States, and 22 other countries, 1,591 people were shot, hanged, gassed, electrocuted, poisoned, beheaded and stoned - judicially murdered according to law. The world day against the death penalty is the day we work to change that.

This year's theme is "Stop the Death Penalty: the World Decides". Later this year, the UN General Assembly will vote on a resolution calling for a universal moratorium on executions. Not only will this be a strong statement on the unacceptability of capital punishment; if implemented it would also allow retentionist countries to see for themselves that a pause in death sentences does not lead to higher crime rates. The World Coalition has a petition backing the resolution (online version here), but they're also asking people to lobby their governments to ensure they support it. So, you might want to email Helen Clark and Winston Peters asking them to back a moratorium and telling them that you'll be watching their performance on this issue. While you're at it, you could also ask them to take the opportunity at next week's Pacific Forum meeting to lobby the Pacific's de-facto abolitionist countries (Nauru, Papua New Guinea, and Tonga, none of which have executed anyone for at least 25 years) to take the final step, abolish the death penalty in law, and make the Pacific a death-penalty-free zone.