The Tenth World Day Against the Death Penalty will focus on progress over the past ten years and tomorrow’s challenges. Every 10 October since 2003, abolitionists throughout the world have raised public awareness by voicing their opposition to the death penalty. In response to appeals by the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty, the 10th of October has in ten years become a coordinated campaign by the abolitionist movement, and the impact of action on that date has been exponential.
Countries throughout the world have ended or curtailed their recourse to capital punishment. Significant progress since 2002 has included abolition of the death penalty by 21 countries for all offences.
Since 10 October 2011, thanks particularly to the activities of ACAT Benin and ACAT Madagascar in cooperation with FIACAT, Benin abolished the death penalty for all offences on 5 October 2012 and on 24 September 2012 Madagascar signed the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, aiming at the Abolition of the Death Penalty—a major step towards abolition.
Similarly, in his Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Africae Munus, which he signed in Ouidah (Benin) on 19 November 2011, Pope Benedict XVI draws ‘the attention of society’s leaders to the need to make every effort to eliminate the death penalty and to reform the penal system in a way that ensures respect for the prisoners’ human dignity’.
The International Federation of Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture (FIACAT) welcomes this progress but remain ready to take up the future challenge of bringing about abolition of the death penalty worldwide.
To that end, FIACAT calls on those countries which still maintain the death penalty to:
Limit its use to crimes that are ‘most serious’ in accordance with international conventions;
Guarantee that persons condemned to death have benefited from all the safeguards of a fair trial;
Ensure the death penalty is not applied to crimes committed by persons under 18 and that pregnant women and persons with mental disabilities are not executed;
Observe a moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty;
Adopt national legislation abolishing the death penalty;
Ratify the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, aiming at the Abolition of the Death Penalty.
Today, 97 countries have abolished capital punishment for all offences, 8 countries have abolished the death penalty for all offences except extraordinary crimes such as those committed in wartime, and 35 countries may be regarded as de facto abolitionist: although the death penalty is still prescribed by law, they have not carried out a single execution for at least ten years. Thus 140 countries have abolished capital punishment either de jure or de facto. But 58 countries and territories still maintain the death penalty and carry out that punishment.
FIACAT: Guillaume Colin—firstname.lastname@example.org—+226 66 33 82 55