SDLP Foyle MP Mark Durkan has co-sponsored a parliamentary motion at Westminster welcoming Pope Francis’s recent call for an abolition of the death penalty – and for Catholic political leaders worldwide to begin the process by suspending the death penalty during the Church’s ‘Year of Mercy’ (8 December 2015 – 20 November 2016).
Mr Durkan, who is a member of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Abolition of the Death Penalty at Westminster, said: “I oppose the death penalty in all circumstances as a matter of principle wherever it happens in the world.
“There are many moral and practical arguments against capital punishment. Indeed, cases such as the Guildford Four and Birmingham Six show the real danger that innocent people could be put to death.
“As a member of the APPG for the Abolition of the Death Penalty, I also help to raise awareness of miscarriages of justice in other countries and the appalling human rights record of many states that do employ death verdicts where fair trials are often a fantasy.
“The death penalty is not only wrong but counterproductive.
“I therefore welcome the example which has been shown by Pope Francis and fully support his call for Catholic political leaders to suspend the death penalty during the Year of Mercy.
“I will also continue to lobby the government to maintain its pressure on the international community to pursue the ultimate aim of a worldwide abolition of the death penalty.”