The Khaleej Times

ROME - Some 3,000 people staged a march in Rome on Sunday to press the Italian government to step up efforts for a UN resolution calling for a world moratorium on the death penalty.
The marchers, who ended their procession at St Peter’s Square as Pope Benedict XVI was delivering his traditional Easter address, carried white balloons and held placards saying ‘We want a UN moratorium soon.’
The march was organised by Marco Panella and Emma Bonino, who lead the small libertarian Radical party, as well as the Roman Catholic Sant’Egidio Community.
‘Everybody agrees (that the death penalty should be abolished) but nobody does anything,’ Panella said. Bonino, a former EU commissioner who doubles as the external trade minister, added: ‘We are here to back the government initiative to get the UN General Assembly to adopt a resolution on the moratorium.’
According to Amnesty International, 128 countries have abolished the death penalty in law or practice, while 69 countries and territories retain and use capital punishment, although the number of countries which actually execute prisoners in any one year is much smaller.
The Italian government said in January, when it became a member of the UN Security Council, that it would use its tenure to get such a resolution passed but has yet to forward any such proposal. Former Italian president Francesco Cossiga and Rome Mayor Walter Veltroni took part in Sunday’s march, which had the backing of current President Giorgio Napolitano, Prime Minister Romano Prodi, about 15 ministers and several left-wing parties as well as some figures from the right and many associations.
The protesters hoped that the pope would mention their cause, but it was absent from his ‘Urbi et Orbi’ (to the city and the world) Easter message.