Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Effort to Reinstate Death Penalty in Switzerland Ends

Switzerland abolished the death penalty nearly 70 years ago. The “Committee for the Death Penalty” wanted to change that and reinstate capital punishment for Swiss murders involving sexual abuse.

The Committee said it launched the campaign because it believes Swiss law unfairly favors perpetrators over the victims and their families. The committee organized as the result of the brutal sexual assault and murder of a 28-year-old woman last year.

Under Switzerland's system of direct democracy, citizens can call for a referendum on almost any subject if they collect at least 100,000 signatures. The Committee received government permission to collect signatures for a referendum.

Then, without warning, The Committee for the Death Penalty abruptly withdrew their campaign to reinstate the death penalty. It gave no reason for terminating the much publicized campaign.

It appears the Committee was surprised by the kind of broad criticism that the death penalty proposal received when it was announced. Authorities said this week that capital punishment could breach the Swiss constitution or international treaties, and that parliament might have moved to block any referendum from taking place.

The death penalty has been abolished in nearly all of Europe. A moratorium on the death penalty is included the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. Only Belarus still practices capital punishment. Latvia retains the death penalty only for crimes during wartime.

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