Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Victims opposing the death penalty

Media coverage of crime and the death penalty often focuses on calls for execution from family members who have suffered terrible losses. But there is another response to these losses, one that emphasises hope and the defence of universal human rights.

The US-based organisation Murder Victims' Families for Human Rights (MVFHR) brings together victims of criminal murder, terrorist attacks and state killings to defend human rights and campaign against the death penalty.

On the World Day Against the Death Penalty, MVFHR has issued a powerful statement in support of the right to life and in favour of a moratorium on executions. The statement below was posted on their blog:

Murder Victims' Families for Human Rights is an organization of family members of homicide victims and family members of people who have been executed. As survivors with a direct stake in the death penalty debate, and as people who believe in the value of basic human rights principles, we join today in the call for a worldwide moratorium on executions.

The most basic of human rights, the right to life, is violated both by homicide and by execution. We call today for a consistent human rights ethic in response to violence: let us not respond to one human rights violation with another human rights violation. Let us recognize that justice for victims is not achieved by taking another life.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was inspired by victims, demanded by victims. It grew out of the suffering of millions of civilians murdered under the brutal regimes of the Second World War, and its adoption on December 10, 1948 was a way to honor the loss of those lives by asserting that such violations are neither moral nor permissible under any nation or regime.

Now, almost sixty years later, let us recognize that violations of human life in the form of the death penalty should not be permissible under any nation or regime. We call for a moratorium on the death penalty because the only way to uphold human rights is to uphold them in all cases, universally.

Today, on World Day Against the Death Penalty, the United Nations General Assembly is considering a resolution that will take us one step closer to fulfilling the aspiration of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. As victims, we urge the members of the General Assembly to adopt the UN resolution for a universal moratorium on executions.

1 comment:

Susannah Sheffer said...

Thanks to all for speading the word about the work of MVFHR. Your readers might be interested to know that just this past June we launched our first affiliate group outside the U.S. -- in Japan! The Japanese group Ocean was started by victims' family members and other allies in Japan who oppose the death penalty.