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Italy to push for global death penalty ban after Saddam execution

[JURIST] Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi [official website; BBC profile] said Tuesday that he would push the United Nations to adopt a universal ban on the death penalty [press release, in Italian] after this weekend's execution [JURIST report] of Saddam Hussein [JURIST news archive]. Italy, which assumed a two-year non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council [official website] Monday, was one of 85 UN member states that in December joined together to urge the abolition of the death penalty [Amnesty press release] and institute a moratorium on executions. Reuters has more.

Hussein's execution has prompted criticism from rights groups and world leaders [JURIST reports], both for its imposition of the death penalty and the circumstances surrounding Hussein's trial and hanging. Terry Davis, Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Europe's human rights watchdog, said in a statement posted on the COE website Tuesday: "The trial of Saddam Hussein was a missed opportunity in a country which does not have many opportunities. It was an opportunity for Iraq to join the civilised world. The former Iraqi dictator was a ruthless criminal who deserved to be punished, but it was wrong to kill him.... The death penalty is cruel and barbaric, and I call on the Iraqi authorities to abolish it. It is late, but not too late, for Iraq to join the great majority of civilised and democratic countries in the world who have already abolished the death penalty."

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