ADHRRF – On January 25, 2018, at the premiere of the opera Dead Man Walking, a roundtable was jointly organized in the Royal Theatre (Teatro Real) by the International Commision Against the Death Penalty (ICDP), the Royal Theatre and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Spain. It aimed to promote people’s understanding of the death penalty through art and culture and oppose such inhuman and degrading punishment.
The event was hosted by Esteban Beltrán (Director of Amnesty International Spain), and about 200 representatives from different human rights organizations and various walks of life took part in this event. Attendees invited included Federico Mayor Zaragoza (Honorary President of ICDP and former Director-General of UNESCO), Juan Ignacio Morro (the Director-General of Human Rights and United Nations at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Spain), Sister Helen Prejean (the author of Dead Man Walking), etc.
During the event, discussions about “against the death penalty” were held by panelists. Ms. Asunta Vivó, Executive Director of ICDP, hoped all sectors of society unite to oppose the death penalty and call for abolition of the death penalty in various ways.
Mr. Juan Ignacio Morro said: “First we need to know what we are discussing is an issue related to human rights. The death penalty is banned in Spain and it doesn’t exists now…. At the beginning only 16 countries were against the death penalty globally, now there are 97 countries. Making a decision against the death penalty has no necessary link with the geography, culture, religion and economic development of a participating country but depends on the politics and the attitude of the government.” He is proud that the Spanish government opposes the death penalty.
Joaquín José Martínez, the first Spaniard to leave death row in the United States, said: “It is not difficult to sentence a person to death, but it is really difficult to forgive a murderer, so today I feel that my opposition to death penalty is based on forgiveness rather than law and justice.”
Sister Helen Prejean witnessed the sufferings of some US death row prisoners, and she said: “I had witnessed that a person (a police) makes a living through torturing and killing people, which made me bristle with indignation. Since Spain was once ruled over by a dictator in the Franco era, we Spaniards have a deep feeling about this.”
Abolition of the death penalty is a long-debated issue. This event caused people to attach more attention and reflection to whether “death penalty” should exist.
It is learnt that at present 97 countries have abolished the death penalty, yet it still exists in 58 countries, such as China, Iran, and Pakistan.