INTERNATIONAL: Leaders from Many Countries Address Fifth World Congress in Madrid

On June 12-15, political leaders and criminal justice experts from five continents gathered in Madrid, Spain, for the Fifth World Congress Against the Death Penalty. The World Congress was co-sponsored by Spain, France, Norway, and Switzerland, and included delegates from over 90 countries. The delegation from the United States included Jerry Givens, a former correctional officer in Virginia, who assisted with the execution of 62 inmates. Givens became an opponent of the death penalty after his experience of participating in executions. He said, “It was like a rollercoaster, up and down, because as a correctional officer I prepared inmates to return into society as a productive citizen and as an executioner you take lives.” The World Congress also included messages from Nobel Laureate Desmond Tutu of South Africa, Ban Ki-moon, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Pope Francis, and other influential leaders from around the world.

The conference was organized by Together Against the Death Penalty (ECPM) together with the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty. Although DPIC is not a member of any abolition organizations, DPIC’s Executive Director, Richard Dieter, was invited to the Congress to address changes in the death penalty in lthe U.S.

(R. Jillo, “Abolitionists gather to rid world of death penalty,” Capital News, June 13, 2013; “Former executioner becomes opponent of death penalty,” AFP, June 13, 2013). See International.