Italy seeks united EU front on death penalty moratorium

OME: Italy is asking the European Union for help in its diplomatically perilous bid to impose a global moratorium on the death penalty in the wake of Saddam Hussain’s execution.

In a statement, the Italian Foreign Ministry said the 27-member bloc should discuss “a common strategy” designed to increase international support for the moratorium at an informal meeting of EU political directorates set for January 11-12 in Dresden, Germany.

“The recent cases of capital punishments and executions ... present us with the need to draw the attention of the international community to a renewed initiative designed to promote a moratorium on the death penalty, in view of its complete abolition,” the statement said.

Catholic Italy was shocked by televised images of Hussain’s hanging and is now spearheading diplomatic efforts to bring about a global ban on capital punishment.

Italy has just become a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council and its ambassador in New York, Marcello Spatafora, has asked officials to put the moratorium on the agenda of the UN General Assembly.

While past attempts to ban capital punishment at UN level have failed, Italian campaigners say international support for such a ban has grown in recent years. And according to “Hands off Cain”, an Italian pressure group, the execution of the former Iraqi leader may also have helped persuade several Arab countries to back a moratorium.

Though capital punishment is banned in Europe, analysts note that influential EU members like Germany, which currently holds the Union’s rotating presidency, will be unwilling to irk the US and other commercial partners such as Iran and China, which back the death penalty. – DPA