BERN, SWITZERLAND – A number of major European newspapers ran articles calling for an end to the death penalty, Wednesday 10 October, to mark the 10th annual World Day Against the Death Penalty.
Switzerland was behind the initiative, with Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter signing a declaration and joined by the foreign ministers of Germany, Guido Westerwelle; France, Laurent Fabius; Liechtenstein, Aurelia Frick; Austria, Michael Spindelegger; and Italy, Giulio Terzi.
More than 130 countries around the world have abolished or placed a moratorium on the death penalty, according to Bern. “This is an encouraging number, and the efforts of the past have borne fruit,” the federal department of foreign affairs says in a statement issued Wednesday. “As the signatories to the public appeal published this Wednesday note, however, ‘But we have not yet attained our goal, so that we must now redouble our commitment. As long as capital punishment still exists we will continue to fight against it. The notion of killing in the name of justice is contrary to the fundamental values for which our countries stand.’”
Amnesty International, which has long fought the death penalty and which tracks its use, reports that there were 527 executions in 2011, of which 360 were in Iran. The figures do not include “China, which put thousands of people to death”, according to Amnesty.