Sixty 'Cities for Life' Light Up Against Death Penalty

Posted by under News on 2 December 2002

Is Singapore a "city of Life" or a "City of Death"? Singapore actively advocates and campaigns on behalf of the death penalty at the UN Human Rights Commission. It also actively implements the death penalty. Its time for a long overdue change in our mindset to value and appreciate human life. Its time for the people to say NO to the death penalty. Think Centre says NO to death penalty - its inhumane and cruel punishment! 30th Novemeber 2002 is the first-ever World Day Against the Death Penalty, blazed forth its message with Rome's Colosseum and other monuments around the globe bathed in light displays condemning what organizers call a practice from the past like torture and slavery. Its time for Singapore to light-up the darkness - let the lights shine for life!

Sixty "Cities for Life" join World Day Against Death Penalty

Sixty "Cities for Life" will mark the first World Day Against the Death Penalty on Saturday [30th November 2002], constituting the most concerted effort yet to campaign against capital punishment.

Cities as far apart as Stockholm in Sweden and Santiago in Chile will mark the event, designed to highlight the ultimate judicial punishment which is seen by a growing number of countries as inhumane and barbaric.

They will draw attention to the 3,048 people known to have been executed in 31 countries last year, and to more than 5,200 who received death sentences in 68 countries, according to Amnesty International which believes the true figures are much higher.

China, one of a tiny handful of countries responsible for 90 percent of all executions worldwide, said on the eve of the event that it had no plans to abolish the practice. Amnesty recorded more than 2,600 executions in China alone last year.

Foreign ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said China's use of the death penalty remained necessary for public safety.

"If China does not make sure conditions are there, an early abolition of the death penalty may mean turning a blind eye to criminals," Liu said.

Iran, with at least 139 executions, Saudi Arabia, 79, and the United States, with 66, are the other world leaders in execution.

They are the most prolific of the 84 countries still sanctioning and using capital punishment, according to Amnesty 2001 report.

However, opponents of the death penalty can point to continued progress in their campaign, with a total of 111 countries to have abolished it in law or in practice.

On average, three countries a year have been abolishing capital punishment over the past decade.

A total of 76 countries have abolished the penalty for all crimes, while 15 have abolished it for most crimes and 20 others have not carried out an execution in more than 10 years.

Saturday's event has been organised by the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty, formed in Rome in May by the Catholic lay community Sant'Egidio with major rights groups like Amnesty International and the International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH).

Participating cities include Amsterdam, Antwerp, Barcelona, Brussels, Copenhagen, Dublin, Geneva, London, New York and Paris as well as Italy's main cities.

Inspired by Rome, which lights up the Colosseum each time a country abolishes the death penalty, organisers have asked major world cities to dress a major monument in light on November 30.

Rome also illuminates the Colosseum whenever a capital sentence is overturned, as it did for Safiya Husseini, a Nigerian mother sentenced by an Islamic court to death by stoning in 2000.

Barcelona has agreed to bathe its spectacular cathedral in lights, Santiago will light up a central park and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg will illuminate the interior of a public building.

Belgium's capital Brussels will switch on illuminations at its giant "Atomium" structure and top it with a dove of peace and a multilingual message of support.

The November 30 date was chosen for its symbolic value as it is the anniversary of the world's first abolition of the death penalty, in Tuscany in 1786, according to the Rome based Catholic lay community.

The day is meant to remind the world that "the death penalty is an instrument of the past, like torture and slavery", said its spokesman Mario Marazziti.

Marazziti said that the move had been sponsored by grassroots religious and secular rights organisations like his because of the difficulty in convincing the United Nations to proclaim such a day given that the United States is one of the countries using capital punishment.

Show some love,

Back to Previous Page