On 10 October 2008, the World Day Against the Death Penalty, the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty called on the citizens of the world to mobilise for the cessation of executions in Asia.
Here is a brief report of the actions of the ACATs on that Day.
Some organised lectures
Francophone Belgium: a lecture by Guy Aurenche: “The abolition of the death penalty, what is at stake for tomorrow’s human race”.
United States: “Last Rights, what are they?” Lecture by Rev. Joe Ingle.
Press release and signing the petition
Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Italy
Days for Reflection
North Kivu: “The death penalty is one of the most serious forms of torture that exist”. This brought together representatives of NGOs, organisations for the defence of Human Rights, officers of the Judicial Police (4), some officials of the Public Ministry (4), the President of the Provincial Assembly, the president of the legal commission of the Provincial Assembly, the Provincial Minister for Human Rights and Justice, the head of the Human Rights division.
Awareness-raising and testimonies
Canada: “38 years behind bars”, testimonies of prison chaplains.
And a second evening of public awareness-raising, with the aid of the testimony of a former life-prisoner for murder, now involved in the support of detainees who are serving long sentences. This is done via the organisation Option-Life [together with the Sant’Egidio group and the Ville lumière de St. Jérôme.
Belgium/Flanders, in collaboration with Sant’Egidio and Inside Outside: two testimonies on death row.
South-Kivu: awareness-raising in the Chinese quarter (they are repairing the roads of Bukavu) and then in the general area of the UN Mission to the Congo (MONUC) including a conversation with some Pakistanis they found there. The Asians were on the whole receptive and showed great interest in the subject expressing the hope of visiting the ACAT offices to find out more and continue the discussion on the reasons for or against the abolition of the death penalty.
Togo: A film festival on Human Rights allowed ACAT to discuss this problem with the pupils of high schools and the population of certain areas of Lomé.
Brazil: “A public event against the death penalty” (denouncing summary and arbitrary executions in Brazil; the Olympic games in China; impunity for torturers in the recent period of military dictatorship; giving information on the struggle against police violence, injustices and the lack of access to rights, specially for the poorest). The event took place in the Central Square of Capão Redondo, one of the districts of São Paulo with the highest indices of violence and assassination. In cooperation with seven NGOs.
France: on 2 July, with Amnesty International, a die-in in the Place de la Concorde in Paris and in several French towns, to denounce the use of the death penalty in the United States. Testimony from Martine Correia on the struggle she has been engaged in for 17 years to get her brother, Troy Davis, out of death row.
Spain: in Barcelona, ecumenical prayer which enabled everyone to participate in the campaign for signatures launched by the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty. Also an urgent appeal was sent to the Governor of Texas for a review of Eric Cathey’s death sentence.
Switzerland: took up the theme and the documentation proposed by the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty, concentrating on two Asian countries, Japan and Taiwan. The documentation was sent to all parishes, inviting them to participate in this campaign, to sign the petitions and to take a collection for ACAT.
Germany: the same signature campaign for a moratorium on capital punishment in Asia. A monthly appeal is dedicated to a prisoner condemned to death in Japan.
France: the same signature campaign, in collaboration with Amnesty International. The October monthly appeal related to the particular situation of Taiwan.
South Kivu: broadcast by Maître Habibu Jean Bosco on the theme “The death penalty: a cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment”; with particular attention given to the international and national Congolese juridical instruments against the death penalty.
Togo: broadcasts on 10 and 11 October on the death penalty. A reminder to the population not to take justice into their own hands by killing thieves or other delinquents.
Togo: together with AI, a meeting with the President of the Human Rights Commission of the National Assembly; and with the Human Rights Minister, on the consolidation of democracy and civic education (according to him the Head of State favours the abolition of the death penalty); and with the office manager of the Minister of Justice. Posters and brochures from the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty were given to the authorities met with.