Asia develops into hub of abolitionist dialogue


By Emile Carreau, on 6 November 2014

The Christian organisation champions the phrase “No Justice Without Life” and it is clear that this message was heard far and wide at the conferences.
More than 600 people participated in the one-day conference in Tokyo on October 23, including 18 members of Japan’s Parliament, representatives from the European Union, lawyers and civil society representatives working for human rights and former death row inmate, Iwao Hakamada.
This was followed by a two-day conference in Manila on October 27 and 28. At the final act in Green Fields Square, Mandaluyong City, over 4,000 people attended and heard the final appeal stress the need for a justice system to respect “human life and dignity, firmly believing in possible rehabilitation of a human being”.
The gathering attracted people from other Asian countries including Cambodia, Laos, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Japan, India and Indonesia.

“Sincere emotion”

“It was clear that the participants were highly motivated and all engaged in a concrete way in the battle against death penalty. We reached at the meeting, moments of sincere emotion,” said Alberto Quattrucci, Community of Sant’Egidio’s Secretary General for Peoples and Religions.
“The Community of Sant’Egidio will certainly continue to promote conferences in Asia on human rights and the value of life. We want to move forward.”
Quattrucci added that during the conference, Sant’Egidio had received an invitation to promote a meeting on “No Justice without Life” in India. “But we also want to continue in the Philippines!” he said.
“We mostly have chosen the Philippines because we are firmly convinced that the country can play an important and crucial role in the battle for Human Rights and the abolition of death penalty in the entire area.“
Filipina Justice Secretary Leila M. De Lima told the conference: “The death penalty kills innocent people. The death penalty disproportionately burdens the vulnerable and the marginalised. The death penalty has not been proven to deter violent crime. In fact, we shouldn’t be afraid to go on the offensive and challenge those who claim the alleged deterrent effect, tell them that they are barking up the wrong tree.” Watch her speech below.

The Philippines has abolished the death penalty but is surrounded by countries that retain the death penalty. The firmly abolitionist State has many overseas workers on death rows in Asia, a region which accounts for the majority of the world’s executions.
Another World Coalition member organisation, ECPM, will be organising a regional conference on the death penalty in the retentionist state of Malaysia mid-next year.

Religion and abolition

“Religions can play a big role in the promotion of a serious battle for the abolition of the death penalty.” Quattrucci noted.
“Through a sincere dialogue and collaboration between them, religions can now find the courage and boldness to undertake an open debate in favour of life, with politicians of every state.”
This sentiment was echoed loudly by Pope Francis who recently “called on all men and women of good will to fight for the abolishment of the death penalty in ‘all of its forms’”. The Community of Sant’Egidio used his message during the conferences – watch it below.

The Community of Sant’Egidio also organises the “Cities for Life-Cities against the Death Penalty” campaign, which takes place on November 30 each year and sees the illumination of thousands of monuments in cities around the world.

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