World Coalition calls on Canada to keep up its efforts against the death penalty


on 10 March 2009

On 4 March 2009, Canada’s Federal Court ordered the government to continue diplomatic action in favour of Ronald Smith, the only Canadian national on death row in the US (photo).
The Harper government decided to stop lobbying for the revision of Ronald Smith’s death sentence in November 2007. The court found that reversal to be “arbitrary and unlawful” and is “ordering the government to continue to apply the former policy of supporting clemency on behalf of Canadians facing the death penalty in any foreign state to Mr. Smith”.
In its letter to the prime minister, the World Coalition highlighted Canada’s efforts to oppose the death penalty internationally and the support lent to Ronald Smith over the past 25 years. It also stated that “such a long humanist tradition should not be questioned”.
Beyond the Ronald Smith case and the Canadian position, the World Coalition also intends to send a warning signal to abolitionist countries that might consider the struggle against the death penalty as a thing of the past.

April 3, 2009 update:
The World Coalition also wrote to Montana’s governor Brian Schweitzer at the end of March to welcome and encourage the progress made on the path to abolition in the state’s legislature.
Senators recently approved the replacement of the death penalty with life witout parole and the House Judiciary Committee has given the green light to a representatives’ vote on the bill.

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