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Statement by Deputy Minister Marina Sereni at the event on universal moratorium on death penalty sponsored by Italy

Dear colleagues, Madame Acting High Commissioner, Distinguished members of the civil society,

it is an honour for me to co-host this event on “effective and good practices from Members States”, organized together with the European Union, the Government of Sierra Leone, the Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights and Amnesty International. I do believe that sharing our experiences is the best way to identify proper ways to help advance our campaign on the moratorium on the use of the death penalty.

In 2007, at the 62nd session of the United Nations General Assembly, the Resolution on the moratorium of the use of the death penalty was presented for the first time: it was adopted with 104 positive votes, 54 against and 29 abstentions. In 2020 the Resolution has been adopted with 123 votes in favour, 24 abstentions and 38 votes against. It is a positive trend and we should maintain this momentum. It also witnesses the level of global commitment to promote and protect the fundamental value of life.

I would like to thank those Member States, International Organizations and Civil Society Organizations that have contributed to make this trend positive through their outreach initiatives. We should continue to make all efforts in this direction and promote discussions and initiatives at all levels: within the society, among individuals and Countries, between Governments and Parliaments.

Recently we have recorded some positive developments: in 2021 the Parliament of Sierra Leone voted unanimously on July to abolish the death penalty, making the West African nation the 23rd Country on the Continent and the 110th worldwide to end capital punishment. Minister Francis, I am glad to be here with you today and to hear your experience and the good practices developed to achieve this goal.

I would also like to recall other positive developments occurred this year: Papua New Guinea repealed last January death penalty 30 years after its reintroduction, recognizing that it was not an effective deterrent to serious crime; Central African Republic abolished the death penalty last June and became the 24th Country on the Continent.

Abolition of capital punishment is indeed deeply connected with building trust and reconciliation process within societies: it promotes the idea of restorative justice rather than retributive justice. It can be especially beneficial for those Countries that experienced international or civil wars, terrorism and other forms of sharp conflicts.

Italy has a very long tradition in opposing death penalty, being at the forefront of the global campaign to abolish the death penalty since its beginning in the General Assembly, back in the 1990s. Death penalty is, indeed, an inhuman and degrading punishment, with no deterrence to crime, while it makes judicial mistakes fatally irreversible.

Over the years, we have contributed to several initiatives to raise awareness about the stronger impact of death penalty on the most vulnerable persons. I would like to pay a special tribute to Civil Society organizations for their commitment and tireless work. Working together, Governments, International Organisations and the grassroots movements, can achieve tremendous results as they touch upon different components of the decision making process.

We know that the path towards the abolition of the death penalty through a moratorium needs courage and determination. *And we have just heard from Minister Francis how important is to find this courage.* Most of all, it needs a constant effort to listen to those Governments and societies who hold a different position. It also requires the sincere will to engage with them to win their hearts and minds, by the inspiration of our own path to abolition and established good practices.

Italy stands ready to share this strong and sincere commitment towards the abolition of the death penalty, based on the principles of inclusiveness, respect and motivation.

We remain fully engaged to consolidate, and possibly improve, the results of the past and we hope to do so with the resolution that we will table this year.

This campaign is about not only promoting policies, legislative changes and judicial decisions. It is, above all, about promoting human rights and dignity of every human being. Thank you.

New York – 22 Semptember 2022