On Dec. 18, 2007, the approval of a resolution for a moratorium on executions by the United Nations General Assembly was hailed as a milestone in the struggle to abolish the death penalty worldwide. It is true that the United Nations may not impose the abolition of the death penalty, but the moral and political value of the resolution is undeniable.
The latest report of Hands Off Cain (1) documents no fewer than 346 executions in Iran in 2008, a figure far exceeded by the total for 2009. Iran's theocratic regime is second only to China in its implementation of the death penalty.
Movement towards the global abolition of the death penalty and the reduction in the number of executions over the last decade were confirmed in the last report of Hands Off Cain. Moreover, in China, which accounts for more than 80 percent of the world's executions, this reduction was accompanied by another promising development: the vice president of the Chinese Supreme Court, Zhang Jun, announced in a statement on June 29 that the country would gradually slow the implementation of capital punishment to the point that there is "a very limited number of executions".
The call for a universal moratorium on executions made by the U.N. General Assembly last year is a landmark. But the ultimate goal of worldwide death penalty abolition could be delayed unless the new General Assembly goes further.
The 2008 world report on the death penalty from Hands Off Cain confirms that there has been positive movement in the fight to end capital punishment for more than a decade, and highlights the most striking advance yet: the universal moratorium against capital punishment approved by the UN last December, writes Elisabetta Zamparutti, a leader in the Radical Party who prepared the annual report on the Death Penalty in the World for Hands Off Cain. She was elected to the Italian Chamber of Deputies in 2008 In this analysis, the author writes that there is one manner in which the resolution could be significantly strengthened: the elimination of the secrecy surrounding the death penalty. Many countries, mostly authoritarian, do not provide official figures on executions, and the general public\'s lack of information is a direct cause of their escalation. Accordingly, a provision should be immediately introduced into the resolution requesting that death-penalty states release to the UN and the general public all information regarding the implementation of capital punishment and executions. On closer examination, it becomes clear that in death penalty countries, the problem goes beyond the specific practice of capital punishment; it is a matter of democracy, the rule of law, the promotion of and respect for political rights and civil liberties.
Any attempt to measure the effects of the resolution for a universal moratorium against the death penalty approved by the UN General Assembly last December 18 must also take into account the fact that its very passage has created an atmosphere conducive to elimination of the practice, writes Elisabetta Zamparutti, a leader in the Radical Party who prepared the annual report on the Death Penalty in the World for Hands Off Cain. She was elected to the Italian Chamber of Deputies in 2008 In this analysis, the author writes that the most significant steps towards abolition have occurred almost exclusively in Africa. However, the delays of the UN vote have also led European countries to go ahead and definitively eliminate the death penalty from their legal codes. This happened in France and Italy, where the death penalty was banned by the 2007 Constitution. But there is an important element of the resolution beyond the call for abolition of the practice: a demand that the death penalty countries furnish information on its implementation to the UN Secretary-General. Ninety-nine percent of the world\'s executions are carried out by totalitarian regimes in many of which, China especially, information relative to capital sentencing and executions is considered a state secret. In all of these countries, the definitive solution involves less a battle to end the death penalty than the fight for democracy, the affirmation of the rule of law, and the promotion of respect for political rights and civil liberties for which transparency is fundamental.
During the last European Union Council on General Affairs on May 14-15, the Italian government and the German Presidency of the EU received a mandate to present a proposal for a universal moratorium on the death penalty in the UN General Assembly, writes Elisabetta Zamparutti, a leader in the Radical Party who prepared the annual report on the Death Penalty in the World for Hands Off Cain. In this article, Zamparutti writes that the conditions for approval of the proposal in the Assembly have existed for some time but until now the EU has blocked such a move. Thanks to the non-violent campaign of Hands Off Cain and the Radical Party, the preparation of a text of the moratorium resolution now has the green light and the search by the Italian government and the Presidency of the EU for co-sponsors has begun. The latter step is crucial to avoid leaving an initiative of such importance only in the hands of the EU.
With passage of the United Nations Moratorium on Executions likely in the current General Assembly, we are on the verge of obtaining a major victory for humanity which the Non-violent and Transnational Radical Party and Hands Off Cain have been seeking for fourteen years, writes Elisabetta Zamparutti, curator of the annual report of Hands Off Cain, \'\'The Death Penalty in the World\", and a leader of the Radical Party. In this article, the author writes that after the execution of Hussein and through the moratorium campaign, Hands Off Cain and the Radical Party have succeeded in making everyone understand, even in the Arab world and beginning with the Cain of our time, the urgency of preventing a widening cycle of violence and war, in Iraq and elsewhere, which would have disastrous consequences. It was non-violent actions that were responsible for convincing the public of the urgency a measure like the UN moratorium and so accelerated the historic process of abolitionism. The startling drama and horror of the death penalty in the world today is to be found largely in the 98 percent of the world\'s 5000 years executions that are carried in totalitarian and repressive countries. It is because of the nameless and forgotten victims of the death penalty in these countries that a universal moratorium is so very important.
The annual report on capital punishment issued on July 21 by the abolitionist organisation Hands Off Cain shows that the movement towards the abolition of the death penalty, underway for at least ten years, is continuing, writes Elisabetta Zamparutti, a lawyer and the coordinator of the annual report on the death penalty worldwide by Hands Off Cain. It is essential that we act immediately to make sure that a moratorium on the death penalty is presented and approved by the UN General Assembly in September. In this way we can fulfil the initiative begun 13 years ago by Hands Off Cain and by the Transnational Radical Party, which enjoys the support of an extraordinary convergence of the majority and the opposition in the Italian Parliament. With the help of the UN moratorium --and in anticipation of a complete worldwide abolition -- the thousands of those condemned to death could be saved: not only those already known to all, in American prisons, but also the unnamed and the forgotten who await their sentences in the prisons of China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam, Cuba, and all other authoritarian regimes who go to their deaths in silence with total indifference on the part of the world.