Flurry of initiatives against the death penalty at ACATs in the past year
October 10 – World Day against the Death Penalty – is a special day of action by the ACATs in their campaign for the abolition of capital punishment throughout the world.
On that day in 2006, as in previous years, the ACATs organised an array of activities to raise awareness of the death penalty issue.
Here are some of those events, often organised in partnership with other local or international associations:
- in Bukavu, DRC, a conference on the death penalty was organised in conjunction with a student association;
- in Canada, and primarily in Quebec province, the ACAT launched a petition with 6 other local organisations addressed to President Bush, calling for a moratorium on executions. The petition gathered over 3000 signatures;
- in Luxembourg, in cooperation with AI, a film on the death penalty was screened and a petition circulated on behalf of a young woman condemned to death in Saudi Arabia;
- ACAT Switzerland organised a campaign on “miscarriages of justice” linked directly to the death penalty.
Some ACATs, including ACAT Belgium (French-speaking) and ACAT Luxembourg, have set up rapid reaction groups to respond to imminent executions. In the past year, they have stepped in more than 30 times on behalf of those sentenced to death. Some won a reprieve, including Paul Reid in Tennessee, and Shahin Rahman and Asma Bikham in the United Arab Emirates.
ACAT United Kingdom established an independent organisation, “ACAT Abolition of the Death Penalty”, to organise campaigns
against the death penalty.
ACAT France was closely involved in organising and staging the World Congress against the Death Penalty last February.
On 30 November ACAT Switzerland, which has played an active part in campaigning against the death penalty in recent months, took part in an initiative entitled “Cities for life, cities against the death penalty”.
ACAT Burundi’s commitment to have the death penalty abolished, alongside other national organisations, appears set to bear fruit: under pressure from the United Nations, a bill to abolish the death penalty has recently been put before the Burundian Parliament.