Yesterday, more than 900 cities around the world celebrated the 'World Day of Cities for Life Against the Death Penalty'. The Day was inaugurated on on Saturday in a ceremony in Rome, in front of the Colosseum, which was lit up for the occasion.
Just a few days after the Third Commission of the UN General Assembly renewed its anti-death penalty stance, and Burundi abolished capital punishment, on November 30 nearly 1,000 cities around the world, on five continents, held rallies calling for a universal moratorium.
This was the largest international mobilization to date to put an end to executions. The date November 30 was chosen as it is the anniversary of the first abolition of the death penalty in the Western world, which was declared by the Grand Dukedom of Tuscany, on November 30, 1786.
In addition to Burundi, this year Uzbekistan has also abolished the death penalty. In Africa, other countries have embarked upon a path that leads to a moratorium and abolition of the death penalty by law.
At the end of last year, Kyrgyzstan, Rwanda and Gabon wiped the death penalty off their books. In the United States, another state, the State of New Jersey, abolished the death penalty on December 17, 2007. In Asia, China has taken some positive steps while still remaining the country with the highest number of executions. Important changes in both legislation and public opinion were detected in Lebanon, Pakistan, South Korea and Taiwan. Last but not least, the Russian Federation renewed its moratorium until 2010.
Major international human rights organizations and the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty officially support the initiative. This year, Barcelona, Toronto, Brussels, cities in the Philippines and in Africa, along with Florence, Rome, Naples and most of the rest of Italy and Europe were highlighted.
Many leading players in the international campaign to end the death penalty, witnesses, former death row inmates since proved innocent, families of the victims took part in events in many European capitals.
For more information see: www.worldcoalition.org