Cardinal Hails U.N. Vote on Death Penalty

Recommendation for Moratorium a

ROME, NOV. 16, 2007 ( Cardinal Renato Martino thinks that the U.N. vote in favor of an international moratorium on capital punishment is “a relevant step.”

Thursday’s vote ended with 99 in favor, 52 against and 33 abstentions after days of debate.

The resolution expresses concern for the continued application of the death penalty and urges countries that apply this punishment to “establish a moratorium on executions, looking to abolish them.”

The president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace said, “I am truly content.” He affirmed to Vatican Radio: “I was the Holy See’s representative at the United Nations for 16 years, and during that time, I saw the attempts made in the ’90s in favor of this moratorium.

“I worked a lot, and was disappointed when these proposals were withdrawn because they lacked the necessary votes.”

“This time, the number was sufficient, and I am very content,” Cardinal Martino added. “It is a relevant step, but it is only a moratorium and the decision of the U.N. and the General Assembly is only an exhortation, since it is not a convention to which states must adhere. These decisions from the General Assembly are nonbinding.

“Still, this is already something important and I can affirm with satisfaction that many Catholic organizations have worked for this and have the right to be satisfied.”

A total of 133 member states have abolished the death penalty in legislation or in practice, and only 25 states performed executions in 2006.

Amnesty International reports that during 2006, at least 1,591 people were executed in 25 countries. In the United States, 53 prisoners were executed in 12 states in 2006.

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