In 2002, several human rights organizations from across the globe came together in Rome to create the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty. Consisting of over 150 member organizations, the goal of the World Coalition is to “strengthen the international dimension of the fight against the death penalty” and “obtain the universal abolition of the death penalty.” On October 10th, 2003 the coalition declared the first World Day Against the Death Penalty. Since 2005, each year has focused on a particular theme. The focus in 2016 was terrorism and the death penalty’s recent use as a deterrent and punishment for it. In the last ten years, countries including Bangladesh, India, Nigeria, and Tunisia have added terrorism to the list of crimes punishable by death bringing the total number of countries to 65. The World Coalition and other entities are taking a stand against these actions and took the opportunity on October 10th to voice their concerns. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon affirmed that the death penalty “has no place in the 21st century.” In addition, the European Union and the Council of Europe issued a joint declaration of their opposition to the death penalty.
This issue reaches close to home here in Ohio, where it was recently announced that the death penalty will be resumed in the new year after a three year moratorium. The Intercommunity Justice and Peace Center believes firmly in the dignity of human life and that the death penalty is morally wrong. We are disappointed that in 2015 the United States was one of the top five executioners along with China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan. Ohio alone spends an estimated 17 million dollars a year on capital cases. It is part of IJPC’s mission to advocate and educate against the injustices of the death penalty and to offer support for inmates and families through programs like Families That Matter. We frequently partner with groups including Ohioans to Stop Executions (OTSE) and Catholic Social Action Office of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati to show our solidarity with those on death row. Last year, IJPC staff and activists walked 83 miles from the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville to the Statehouse in Columbus, calling for an end to capital punishment. We firmly believe that we must hold our state, country, and global community accountable for injustices against our fellow human beings. This month, IJPC published a Voter’s Guide for Southwestern Ohio and Northern Kentucky which included candidate’s’ stance on the death penalty, along with IJPC’s other core issues. We encourage you to find ways that you can show support for the dignity of human life such as writing to an inmate, contacting your local representatives, and voting. The Death Penalty Committee meets on the second Tuesday each month at 8:00 PM at IJPC.