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Congress opens with call to end death penalty

Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero has told an anti-death penalty conference in Geneva there should be a global moratorium on executions as of 2015.

Zapatero, whose country holds the European Union’s six-month rotating presidency, set out the goal at the start of the Fourth World Congress against the Death Penalty on Wednesday. More than 1,000 representatives of governments and human rights organisations were attending the event.

Zapatero said ending all penal executions within five years was “an achievable goal” and noted that the year 2015 would coincide with the deadline for reaching the United Nations Millennium Development Goals – eight international development targets to which 192 UN member states have committed.

An international commission will be created in the second half of this year to meet the 2015 target, he said.

Two-thirds of the UN member states have already or are in the process of abolishing the capital punishment. Another 25 countries continued to carry out executions in 2009, of which 95 per cent took place in China, Iran, the United States, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.

swissinfo.ch and agencies


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