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Calls mount against death penalty

On World Day against the Death Penalty, Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey has called the capital punishment “an attack on the most fundamental human rights”.

She said that it did not “right wrongs” and had no deterrent effect, so did 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,” Calmy-Rey said in a statement released on Sunday.

The minister added that the abolition of the death penalty was one of the priorities of Swiss foreign policy in the area of human rights, which was why it had sponsored the Fourth World Congress against the Death Penalty, held in Geneva last February.

She said that Switzerland welcomed the recent creation of the International Commission Against the Death Penalty, on which former cabinet minister Ruth Dreifuss has a seat, which will have its secretariat in Geneva from 2011.

Also on Sunday, the Swiss section of the human rights group Amnesty International launched a letter campaign to stop two executions in the United States.

Switzerland outlawed the civil death penalty in the 1940s but in August this year campaigners made headlines when they put forward a people’s initiative to restore capital punishment for murders involving sexual violence.

It was later withdrawn, but its initiator has hinted that a huge lobby was interested in reviving the initiative.

swissinfo.ch and agencies

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