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This 15th November, the eighth World Congress against the Death Penalty opens in Berlin in the presence of Foreign Minister Hadja Lahbib. This is a triennial event, which brings together more than a thousand opponents of the death penalty from all over the world. During four days, they will discuss in a series of debates and workshops tangible proposals to advance the global abolition of the death penalty. Today, 55 countries still maintain the death penalty, both in law and in practice.
Foreign Minister Hadja Lahbib: "My participation in the opening ceremony of the World Congress underlines the importance we attach to the abolition of the death penalty. It is a barbaric and inhumane punishment and an affront to human dignity that too many countries still practice, including Iran - as has been demonstrated very recently. It is unacceptable. The ultimate aspiration of our country and of the European Union is to abolish the death penalty. Belgium, together with its partners, will put the issue back on the agenda of the Human Rights Council in 2023, where our country will also sit next year".
The NGO Ensemble contre la peine de mort (ECPM) is the driving force behind the organization of the world congresses. It receives financial support from Belgium for this purpose. Belgium also supports a civil society capacity building project of the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty.
This NGO coalition also plays a leading role in the "Group of Friends of the Second Optional Protocol". The members of this group of friends (of which Belgium is a member) advocate for the ratification of the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which provides for the abolition of the death penalty. 90 countries are currently States Parties to this protocol.
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