Berlin, Nov 15 (EFE).- The eighth Congress against the Death Penalty opened in Berlin with a clamor from the abolitionist “great family” in favor of a global moratorium, including welcomes to countries that are advancing in that direction and alerts about states like Iran or Saudi Arabia where executions are triggered.
“Fortunately, the countries that apply the death penalty are a shrinking minority,” said German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, opening the congress, which is attended by representatives of 90 states, including some 20 ministers.
In the last 50 years, more than a hundred countries have abolished the death penalty, Baerbock recalled, to welcome the presence in Berlin of the Ministers of the Interior or of Justice from Zambia, Sierra Leone or Liberia, where abolitionist bills are being prepared. .
The death penalty continues to be applied, however, in “big democracies”, recalled the minister, after assessing positively that in some US states the death penalty has been abolished or is no longer applied; The great challenge is the “authoritarian regimes”, where not only is there no progress in that “correct direction”, even if it is in the form of a moratorium, but executions increase year after year.
“We watch with great concern how they use the death penalty to increase repression against opponents,” Baerbock said, referring specifically to Iran, as well as countries where homosexuality can carry the death penalty -11, according to congressional figures. -.
“The death penalty is always political,” said Raphaël Chenuil-Hazan, executive director of the Ensemble contre la Peine de Mort (ECPM), which organized the congress together with the German Foreign Ministry.
THE SPIRIT OF BARENBOIM AND THE PIANO OF MARQUIS
The opening of the congress was held in the Pierre Boulez auditorium of the Akademie Barenboim-Said, the school that since 2015 has trained musicians from the Middle East in the heart of Berlin. It was founded by the Argentinian-Israeli maestro Daniel Barenboim, as a continuation of the work begun with the late Palestinian critic Edward Said and the creation of the East-West Divan Orchestra.
“Barenboim represents the commitment to reconciliation,” said Chénuil-Hazan, to loud applause for the conductor and pianist, who just turned 80 today, but absent from the stage due to a recently diagnosed neurological disease.
Another pianist, the Spanish Albert Marqués, was sitting in the auditorium as a member of the great abolitionist family. Marqués will close the congress on Friday from the Berlin City Hall with a concert featuring Keith LaMar, who is waiting on death row in an Ohio prison (USA).
THE MAP OF CAPITAL PENALTY
There are currently 28,500 people on death row, according to ECPM’s data and interactive map. In Afghanistan alone, an estimated 976 people are awaiting execution.
There are a total of 52 countries around the world called “retentionists” – that is, where these sentences are applied – but the highest number of executions in 2021 corresponded to China, Iran, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Syria.
In the group of 18 countries where there is evidence of executions, an annual increase of 20% was registered last year.
In the zone of maximum risk is Iran, with an annual increase of 25% and 333 executions in 2011 and also a growing number of cases in which the victims were women.
The purpose of the ECPM is not only to denounce those situations of some risk, but also to analyze the evolution of countries in a “positive trend” to become abolitionist.
The ECPM recalls that, of the 198 member states of the UN, 80% stopped executing, either because they are totally abolitionist (60%) or because a moratorium is in force (20%).
There are also cases of abolitionist countries for common crimes, but not for “special circumstances”, such as Brazil, Peru and Chile, in this case with a favorable tendency or tending to approve a moratorium on a universal scale. EFE
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