Thank you, Mr. Chairperson,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I wish to thank the Secretary-General and Amb. Simonovic for organizing this timely and valuable panel, which the Italian Mission is proud to have co-sponsored with Chile.
Italy has a long and deeply-rooted commitment to the advancement of human rights and fundamental freedoms. With regard to today’s topic, almost two-hundred years before the founding of the United Nations it was an Italian, Cesare Beccaria, who penned the foundational text of modern opposition to the death penalty in his treatise, On Crimes and Punishments. We carry on this proud tradition today through the campaign to adopt the Fifth Resolution for a Moratorium on the Death Penalty at the 69th Session of the United Nations General Assembly. This is a top priority of our foreign policy and of the agenda of our Presidency of the European Union in the second half of the year.
As the Secretary General reported in July 2013, the international community as a whole is moving towards the abolition of the death penalty in law or in practice. Capital punishment is increasingly repudiated across most legal systems, traditions, customs and religious backgrounds. Since the time of its first adoption in 2017, the moratorium resolution has built a progressively larger consensus, gaining the support of 111 Countries in favor two years ago.
Today’s event focuses on one of the most sensitive aspects of the death penalty: namely, the relationship between capital punishment and discrimination.
There are indeed many reasons why we believe that the death penalty should be abandoned. One of the most compelling is that, according to the statistics available so far, it tends to be applied in a discriminatory way. Is there evidence that those convicted or executed are more likely to belong to racial, cultural or societal minorities? This is a key question. And one important reason why we were so eager to co-sponsor this event.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I will leave it to our distinguished experts to seek an answer to this heavy question. I wish to make only one substantive point.
The death penalty is often endorsed by beliefs for which there are no scientific grounds. I am not arguing that the truth is necessarily all on one side, or that one size fits all, but I strongly believe that decision makers as well as the public – which throughout the world tends to be driven by emotions – can only make an informed choice through solid data, that give a clear picture of the consequences of the practice of the death penalty in its full complexity. Accurate, reliable and wide-ranging information is needed: not vague, sometimes biased hypotheses.
Ladies and Gentlemen, if we can all agree on this, let us work together and pool our information, in a collective effort to provide transparent national statistics, aiming at creating an international database available for decision-makers. The United Nations, I believe, is no doubt the best framework to launch such a project.
I wish you a very fruitful discussion!
And see you again at our next joint event at the beginning of the Italian Presidency of the European Union, on July 2nd.