The Deacon's Bench

There’s some evidence of that:

electric_chair.jpgThere is an increasing move away from the death penalty, according to participants in a recent congress. From Feb. 24-26, campaigners against the death penalty met at the World Congress Against the Death Penalty, in Geneva, Switzerland.

“There is a new trend against the death penalty that is something new for the world,” said Mario Marazziti, spokesman for the Community of Sant’Egidio, told Reuters in a report published on the opening day of the meeting.

According to Reuters Marazziti told a briefing that 56 countries continued to execute people, while 141 countries did not use the death penalty, including 93 that had formally abolished it altogether.

The Community of Sant’Egido has a Web site dedicated to promoting the abolition of the death penalty, and on it they posted some reports by Marazziti about the congress.

On Feb. 25 he posted some details about the congress and the use of the death penalty.

Over 1,000 activists and experts attended the gathering and they heard that, according to Amnesty International 2,390 persons were executed in 2008.

The countries where the most executions took place in 2008 included China (1,718), Iran (346), Saudi Arabia (102), the United States (37), Pakistan (36), Iraq (34), Vietnam (19), Afghanistan (17), and North Korea and Japan (15 each).

That might seem a lot, he noted, but there has been remarkable progress in reducing the number of countries that utilize capital punishment. Back in the 1970s, only 23 countries had abolished the death penalty, either by removing it from the statute books or ceasing to practice it, Marazziti observed.

Whereas now we have around 140 countries without the death penalty, he pointed out. The exact number is a bit uncertain, he admitted, as some groups suspect there have been small numbers of executions carried out in secret in one or two countries.

Among recent triumphs against the death penalty Marazziti highlighted the cases of Cambodia, Rwanda and Burundi, “three countries that have really suffered the last three big genocides in contemporary history, yet feel that only without the death penalty can a reconciliation process be started in their societies. Otherwise revenge, and the thirst for revenge, will never end.”

Visit the ZENIT link for more.

Meantime, for a provocative take on capital punishment, check out this image. 

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