UN receives five million signatures in favour of a moratorium on executions
Mario Marizziti of the Community of Sant’Egidio headed the delegation and presented Srgjan Kerim with a book containing the 5,245,907 signatures collected in 154 countries since 1998 in favour of a universal moratorium on capital punishment, which the UN General Assembly president considered to be an impressive number.
The group of international activists spent over half an hour with him before holding a press conference at the international organisation’s headquarters in New York.
“For the first time, a real moral interfaith and also lay/secular front was created”, Mario Marazziti said. “It is a demonstration of the strong will of the world and not just an idea of human rights that is rooted in the Italian or European tradition.”
Some 74 UN member states already support a draft resolution that would “establish a moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death
penalty”. It will be submitted to a vote in the UN General Assembly mid-November. Abolitionist campaigners throughout the world have been lobbying their government to secure their backing in that vote.
The presence of Murder Victims’ Families for Human Rights members meant that a link could be established between the campaign against capital punishment and individual cases in which victims find no comfort in a vengeful judicial system.
“I had never thought much about the death penalty until the day the District Attorney asked me about it. I told him that I couldn’t imagine what could bring me comfort or lessen my pain and despair, but I knew it wasn’t that. I knew that another killing would not help me in my grief”, said Marie Verzulli, whose sister was murdered ten years ago.
The delegation included (photo, from left) Renny Cushing from Murder Victims’ Families for Human Rights, Speedy Rice, representative of the National Association of Criminal Defence Lawyers, Helen Prejean, leading American advocate of the abolition of the death penalty and the woman behind the movie Dead Man Walking, Marie Verzulli, from Murder Victims’ Families for Human Rights, Mario Marazziti, leader of the delegation and spokesperson for the Community of Sant’Egidio, Elizabeth Zitrin, member of the executive board of Death Penalty Focus, Bill Babbitt from Murder Victims’ Families for Human Rights, and Yvonne Terlingen, Head of Amnesty International’s UN Office in New York.
Top photo: UN Photo/Paulo Filgueiras