December 25, 2007
The Coliseum in Rome, Italy, where thousands of Christians died during the era of the Roman Empire, was lit on Christmas Eve in celebration of a resolution calling for abolition of the death penalty which was voted on by the United Nations General Assembly on December 18. The non-binding resolution, proposed by Italy, passed with a vote of 104 to 54.
A statement from the mayor of Rome, Walter Veltroni, read: “The Coliseum will be lit up at 1700 (1600 GMT) on this day to stress the moral and civic value of this historic decision taken by the UN on December 18 and strongly backed by Italy.”
Additionally, the Coliseum, which is lit with gold lights whenever a person on death row is pardoned, a country adopts a moratorium or abolished the death penalty, will be lit on Wednesday in honor of New Jersey, which became the first U.S. state in 40 years to abolish the death penalty. Governor Jon S. Corzine signed the bill abolishing New Jersey’s death penalty on December 17. Corzine said: “I believe society must first determine if its endorsement of violence begets violence — and if violence undermines our commitment to the sanctity of life…To these questions, I answer ‘Yes,’ and therefore I believe we must evolve to ending that endorsement.” New Jersey commuted the sentences of its eight prisoners on death row to life without parole.
Thirteen other states and the District of Columbia don’t have the death penalty, while Colorado, Maryland, Montana, Nebraska and New Mexico came close to abolishing it this year. The United States, China and Iraq are among the handful of countries where the death penalty hasn’t been abolished.
Read more death penalty news, about Saudi Arabia’s plans to behead a “witch.”
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