Death penalty opponents see executions on the wane
Wed, Feb 24 2010
The three-day World Congress Against the Death Penalty hopes to give momentum to a trend that has seen roughly 4 countries a year, especially in Africa and
"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, an Italian advocacy group that is one of the driving forces in the global campaign to stop the death penalty.
The congress is backed by the Swiss government and draws strong support from
The campaign was given support by a non-binding United Nations resolution in 2007 calling on countries who use the death penalty to introduce a moratorium and arguing that capital punishment undermined human dignity and was not a deterrent.
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.
Since 2007 the African states of
Abolitionists hope that a series of countries, mainly in
Campaigners hope President Barack Obama will set an example by declaring a moratorium on the federal death penalty.
They also see diminishing support for the death penalty among the public, now that many states offer the alternative of life in prison without parole, and the high cost of running death row and executions is worrying some state governments.
(Reporting by Jonathan Lynn; editing by Noah Barkin)
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