“The death penalty is an attack on the most fundamental human rights”, declares Micheline Calmy-Rey, head of the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs FDFA. “It does not right wrongs; it has no deterrent effect and for these reasons does not provide better protection for society. The irreversible nature of the punishment is problematical because we know that innocent people have been executed and that the penalty has been applied in a discriminatory fashion.
” The abolition of the death penalty is one of the priorities of Swiss foreign policy in the area of human rights. For a number of years, Switzerland has not ceased to strengthen its commitment to the creation of a world without capital punishment. This was the motivation behind its sponsorship of the Fourth World Congress Against the Death Penalty, that was held in Geneva last February. Swiss support for this event confirmed our unshakeable endorsement of the abolitionist cause and human dignity.
Currently, two thirds of the countries of the world have either de jure or de facto abolished the death penalty. “The movement towards abolition seems to be irreversible. This world trend is good news and must be encouraged,” says Mrs Calmy-Rey.
This is why Switzerland welcomes the recent creation – announced by the Spanish Prime Minister, José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, to the Geneva Congress – of the International Commission Against the Death Penalty, on which the former Swiss Federal Councillor, Ruth Dreifuss has a seat. Furthermore, Switzerland is represented within the group of states supporting the Commission and, from 2011, will have the honour to host the Commission’s secretariat in Geneva. It will be housed in the Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights.
In addition to achieving the broadest possible moratorium on executions until 2015, the Commission is committed to the suspension of executions in cases where international law limits its application, for instance in cases of the most vulnerable social groups.
On this day against the death penalty and on behalf of all those people awaiting execution, Switzerland appeals to all States that have not yet done so to introduce a moratorium on the death penalty with a view to its complete abolition, and to commute all death sentences to prison sentences.
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