Geneva 2010: the world’s largest abolitionist meeting is underway
This Wednesday morning’s opening session reflects the effort to bring together all the forces at work in the abolitionist movement, from grassroots groups to far-reaching transnational organisations.In the highly symbolic setting of the Palace of Nations – the headquarters of the UN’s human rights agencies – speakers from all horizons have been taking turns to address the participants. Representatives from international organisations and government ministers came to seal their alliance with NGOs, who were represented by Ensemble contre la peine de mort and the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty at the opening session.
As soon as the official opening session ended, more than 1,000 participants got down to work. All burning issues regarding the death penalty in 2010 are being dealt with through a dense programme of working sessions, starting with a packed plenary meeting on the involvement of international organisations.
Congress participants then split into smaller groups to discuss issues such as discrimination in the administration of the death penalty and ways to establish strategies against capital punishment.
The World Congress also makes room for testimonies from the victims of the cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment that is the death penalty. In a pre-Congress session, the participants to a screening of the film Manners of dying Tuesday evening got a rare chance to hear US death row inmate Mumia Abu Jamal speak live from his prison cell over the telephone.
This was the first occasion among many in the three coming days to hear death row inmates, their relatives and friends as well as those of crime victims, to put a face on the added and useless suffering created by capital punishment.