“Die-in” against the death penalty in the US
For the seventh consecutive year, 200 people showed their support for American death-row prisoners and their opposition to capital punishment in an event in Paris organised by ACAT France and Amnesty International France on 2 July (the anniversary of the US Supreme Court decision in 1976 to resume executions in the United States).
Inspired by the traditional sit-ins by pacifists, participants lay down on the place de la Concorde opposite the American Embassy.
For this seventh ‘die-in’, the organisers wanted to highlight recent progress in the United States. They recalled that the number of death sentences is continually falling: 283 in 1999, 128 in 2005 and 102 in 2006, and that the number of executions in 2006 (53) was the lowest for ten years. The number of States resorting to the death penalty is also falling: 14 in 2006 against 16 in 2005. Finally, ten States have suspended executions pending the outcome of major research into the questions raised by the use of lethal injections, and over the last year approximately twenty draft laws aimed either at abolishing the death penalty or introducing a moratorium have been introduced.
Although there’s still some way to go, particularly in Texas, this sort of development encourages the hope that abolition is no longer a dream and will soon be a reality.
This year, the event was fortunate to have the exceptional support of Sister Helen Prejean (author of Dead Man Walking) who was in France to present her latest book, The Death of Innocents.
Twenty or so French, American and international organisations supported this event.
Photos © Laurent Hini forAmnesty International