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World and European Day against the Death Penalty (10 October 2023)

On the occasion of the World and European Day against the Death Penalty, Italy would like to reiterate its firm, unconditional opposition to the death penalty — a cruel, inhuman, degrading punishment that denies human dignity and has no added value in terms of security and crime deterrence, while making every miscarriage of justice fatally irreversible. We consider it essential to constantly and determinedly renew our commitment to this issue, which is an undisputed priority of Italian foreign policy and is rooted in the legal tradition and collective conscience of our country. We stand alongside politicians, civil society and all human rights activists who fight every day for this practice to be abolished once and for all, under all circumstances. We consider particularly heinous the use of the death penalty against the most vulnerable members of society, such as women and minors, as well as for political, religious or sexual orientation reasons.

Italy has always been at the forefront of the international campaign for a universal moratorium on executions, which we consider the first step towards the global abolition of the death penalty. Thanks also to the commitment within the United Nations and the bilateral dialogue with countries that still uphold the death penalty, the number of countries in which executions take place is progressively decreasing and, at the same time, the consensus in favour of the Resolution on a universal moratorium on executions, promoted by Italy in 2007 at the United Nations, is growing.

The 125 votes in favour of the Resolution for a universal moratorium on the death penalty, obtained on 15 December in the UN General Assembly, confirm the success of our advocacy work. The first resolution for a universal moratorium on the death penalty was passed with 104 votes in favour. Within the framework of the UN General Assembly in New York and the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Italy is organising events and meetings with the aim of sharing and deepening the good practices experimented in the different areas of the world. Together with the European Union’s partners, we participate in all the initiatives aimed at limiting the death penalty to the most serious crimes, avoiding its discriminatory and instrumental use, in line with the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. This year, the 20th anniversary of the entry into force of the Thirteenth Protocol to the European Convention on Human Rights, which provides for the abolition of the death penalty, the number of Council of Europe member states that have ratified the protocol has increased further, reaching almost all of the organisation’s member states.

The Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs continues to work, in close synergy with civil society organisations, to consolidate — and hopefully exceed — the result obtained in 2022 in the General Assembly by the Resolution for a universal moratorium on the death penalty. Two-thirds of the world’s countries have now abandoned this practice, with decisive progress in sub-Saharan Africa. In this regard, our commitment to the UN Interregional Task Force on Overcoming the Death Penalty and the International Commission against the Death Penalty, of which we are one of the founding countries, also continues.

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