Monday, May 14, 2007

EU asks Italy to lead push for death penalty ban


EU asks Italy to lead push for death penalty ban

The European Union has mandated Italy to lead a push for a U.N. moratorium
on the death penalty across the world, the 27-member bloc said on Monday.

Germany, which holds the rotating presidency of the EU, said Rome had been
asked to draft a text calling for the suspension of the penalty at the
next meeting of the United Nations General Assembly later this year.

"We have been lobbying hard in the past year for the suspension of the
death penalty and we believe the time is right now to have another stab,"
German Foreign Minister Frank Walter Steinmeier told reporters after a
meeting in Brussels.

Data collected by rights group Amnesty showed a fall in worldwide
executions to 1,591 in 2006 from 2,148 in 2005, and a fall in the number
of countries imposing the death penalty.

Some 99 countries ban capital punishment while 69 still use it. 6
countries -- China, Iran, Iraq, the United States, Pakistan and Sudan --
account for about 90 % of the total, and China the bulk of these.

(source: Reuters)

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