Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Light against the death penalty

On 30 November 1786, that is 226 years ago, death penalty was abolished in the Grand Duchy of Tuscany. It was the first time that a European country legally abolished this penalty. Leopold I, the Grand Duke of Tuscany, as enlightened prince, introduced this reform of the penal code, as well as other laws to boost trade, industry and agrarian productivity, and he suppressed the naval force kept up by the Medici.
To celebrate the first abolition of the death penalty in Europe, the Community of Sant’Egidio, together with 300 more organizations worldwide, launched the international campaign Cities for life to fight against death penalty in the world. For 10 years, every 30 November, more than 1,500 cities around the world light some of their most emblematic buildings to raise public awareness against executions. According to a report drawn by Amnesty International, in 2011 there were 676 people executed in 20 different countries, not including the thousands of people believed to be executed in China, where these figures are top secret. Some other countries like Iran also keep a secret list of executions not included as official information, so the total amount of executed people could double the officially reported figures.
So far, death penalty is abolished in 140 countries. It is quite a major step if we take into account that by the end of the 60s only 55 countries followed the example of Tuscany. At present, there are still 58 countries where death penalty is legal, even if not always applied.
As of 31 December 2011, there were 18,750 people under death sentence worldwide in the death row of many prisons.

  1. The Grand Duchy of Tuscany: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grand_Duchy_of_Tuscany
  2. Leopold I, Grand Duke of Tuscany (later on known as Leopold II, Holy Roman Emperor):  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leopold_II,_Holy_Roman_Emperor
  3. Community of Sant’Egidio: http://www.santegidio.org/index.php?langID=en
  4. Cities for Life campaign: http://nodeathpenalty.santegidio.org/
  5. Death penalty in 2011, according to Amnesty International: http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/ACT50/001/2012/en/241a8301-05b4-41c0-bfd9-2fe72899cda4/act500012012en.pdf



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