GENEVA: WORLD CONGRESS AGAINST THE DEATH PENALTY- PRESIDED OVER BY HANDS OFF CAIN
February 26, 2010: the fourth World Congress Against the Death Penalty concluded today in Geneva. It was organised by the â€śEnsemble contre la peine de mortâ€ť association, with the patronage of the Swiss Confederation and in partnership with the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty.
The event was attended by approximately 1700 abolitionists coming from more than 100 countries. It opened on Thursday the 24th at the United Nations with a plenary session that saw contributions by, amongst others, Spanish Prime Minister JosĂ© Luis Zapatero and Robert Badinter, French Justice Minister under the Mitterand presidency and promoter of the abolition of the death penalty in 1981.
The third World Congress was held in Paris in 2007, the year in which abolitionist organisations finally achieved the Resolution for the Moratorium on capital punishment at the General Assembly. This goal had been wanted by no-one more than Hands Off Cain and the Non Violent Radical Party, and it was supported by the Italian Government.
Under the ambit of the Congress, a round table was held on the theme of â€śProtecting vulnerable groups from the death penalty: minors and the mentally disabled.â€ť It was presided over by Antonio Stango, a member of the Hands Off Cain board of directors. Among those contributing were Amnesty Internationalâ€™s James Welsh, James Ellis of the University of New Mexico (a state that abolished the death penalty in 2009), Ameir Mohamed Suliman (coordinator of the Central African legal program for Justice and Peace in Sudan) and Nazanin Ashin-Jam from â€śStop Child Executionsâ€ť (Canada).
Ashin-Jam, an Iranian political observer discussed how Iran is the country with the most executions of minors and of people who were minors at the time they committed the act. In many cases these are also â€śvictimless crimesâ€ť, for example homosexual behaviour or extra-marital sex. There are approximately 140 minors on death row in Iran. Moreover, the Iranian Regime stopped lawyer Mohammad Mostafaei at Tehran airport. Mostafaei would have brought an eyewitness account of defending minors sentenced to death to Geneva.
Antonio Stango noted that minors are also executed in Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Yemen and â€“ as emerged during the round table â€“Nigeria, where the execution of minors is not acknowledged by federal legislation but occurs in the federated states.
Amongst other topics discussed was the fact that some Islamic countries had ratified the International Convention on the Rights of the Child with reservations and statements that show the prevalence of Shariah principles. The principles have been interpreted by different regimes, mainly the Iranian regime, in a violently repressive manner, against the international convention. (Sources: HOC, 26/02/2010)