With one week to go before the 5th World Congress Against the Death Penalty, ECPM is inviting the Madrid-based media to a press conference during which people formerly sentenced to death and relatives of death row prisoners will share their experience, their suffering and their commitment to universal abolition.

The press conference will take place on June 5 at 11am at Centro internacional de prensa de Madrid, Calle de Marina de Molina 50, 2e planta, 28006 Madrid. Speakers will include:

  • Raphaël Chenuil-Hazan (France), executive director of Together Against the Death Penalty (ECPM)
  • Joaquin Martinez (Spain), former death row prisoner
  • Cándido Ibar, (Spain/USA), father of death row prisoner Pablo Ibar
  • Ahmed Haou (Morocco), former death row prisoner

On June 12 at 5pm, the opening ceremony of the Congress will bring abolitionists face to face with the numerous personalities who have confirmed their attendance in Madrid.

Throughout the Congress, the participants will meet people directly affected by the death penalty including Joaquin Martinez, Ahmed Haou, Cándido Ibar and his daughter-in-law Tanya Ibar, whose husband Pablo is on death row in the US. Former death row prisoners Chien-Ho Su, Bing-Lang Liu, Lin-Xun Chuan (Taiwan) and Marina Nemat (Iran) will also share their experience, as well as Jerry Givens, a former correction officer on death row and member of the execution team in the US state of Virginia.

The 1,500 participants expected from more than 90 countries will also hear the United Nations’ High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navanethem Pillay; Secretary General of the Council of Europe Thorbjørn Jagland; and nine ministers representing countries from Switzerland to Mauritania. Nobel Peace Prize winners Mairead Maguire and Shirin Ebadi will be present and two other laureates will take part by video link.

On June 13 and 14, the debates of this 5th World Congress Against the Death Penalty will focus on analysing the current issues from a geographical point of view and from very specific perspectives on strategies.

The goals of this event outline a necessary evolution to ensure the work done in Madrid does not remain a long list of principles and identified problems, often already known and recognised. This unique opportunity to exchange, to share, to understand, and to better assess the current stakes of universal abolition will engage the abolitionist community to capitalise on the answers that are gradually taking shape in order to redefine its action and campaign strategies.

Two days of debate might seem trivial given the scale of the task at hand, which hence the three distinct forms used in the programme:

– the plenary sessions will be the highlights for assessment and analysis, whether from a political or academic perspective, on two regions of the retentionist world;

– the roundtables will constitute moments of reflection and strategic analysis;

– the workshops will be interactive sessions enabling all actors to refine their tools, share experiences and learn how to identify future opportunities for interaction within the abolitionist community.

Abolitionist energy must not be dispersed but circulated so that all those who fight for universal abolition leave the 5th World Congress with new tools and ideas, new contacts and renewed hope that their aim is not utopian and will be accomplished through the work of all.

The challenge of uniting the world around universal abolition is encouraging us to learn from our differences and to reinvent ourselves without fear of innovation.

Sandrine Ageorges-Skinner
Academic programme coordinator