Member nations of the European Union and the Council of Europe marked October 10th as “European Day Against the Death Penalty,” an action to underscore the continent’s firm commitment to ending executions throughout the world. Leaders from the EU and the Council of Europe launched the initative during an October 9th conference in Lisbon, Portugal.

On October 10 in New York at the United Nations, a press conference also marked the “World Day Against the Death Penalty” with international human rights leaders urging support for a resolution calling for a global moratorium on executions. Sister Helen Prejean, Tim Robbins, and Mike Farrell joined speakers from other countries in advocating a halt to executions.

In Lisbon, European Commission President Juan Manuel Barroso noted, “The European Union is unreservedly opposed to the use of capital punishment under all circumstances and has consistently called for the worldwide abolition of this punishment.”

One hundred and thirty-three countries have abolished the death penalty in practice or in law. Regional press conferences calling attention to the day were also held in Morocco, Puerto Rico and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

(European Union Press Release, October 9, 2007; World Coalition Against the Death Penalty Press Release, Oct. 10, 2007). See International.