We recently got exciting confirmation that our call for Gov. Cooper to commute all of NC’s death sentences is being heard not just in the streets of Raleigh but across the world. In early November, diplomats from the European Union, Switzerland, and Norway (pictured above) visited North Carolina to add their support to our ongoing work to ensure that executions are never again carried out in our state.
Over three days, the 13-member delegation of representatives from across Europe held a series of private meetings with stakeholders including the Governor’s Office and other elected officials. They also met with some of our Coalition’s committed partners, including the founders of Catholics for Abolition in NC and members of NCCADP’s Family Survivor Engagement Group who have lost loved ones to violence.
They also co-hosted a public screening of the film Love Lived on Death Row, a powerful documentary about the execution of Elias Syriani, at the Duke Human Rights Center. This film is a wrenching testament to the cruelty of executions, and afterward, we were privileged to hear from Mr. Syriani’s attorney, Henderson Hill, and his close friend and penpal, Meg Eggleston. If you haven’t seen the film yet, click the link. It will bring you fresh energy to end the inhumane death penalty. (Read Meg Eggleston’s recent op-ed about the execution here.)
European Union representatives say supporting efforts to stop executions is part of their mission to promote human rights around the world. All 27 EU member states abolished the death penalty decades ago, and today they have far lower rates of violent crime than in the U.S. They also have vastly lower incarceration rates.
As European Union Ambassador to the U.S. Stavros Lambrinidis said, “We have seen in practice that the death penalty doesn’t promote public safety and that, where applied, inevitably also results in the execution of innocent people – a moral injustice that no democracy can tolerate. As America’s strongest allies, we respectfully ask Governor Cooper to exercise his powerful moral and political leadership to commute the sentences of death row inmates in North Carolina to prison terms.”
The death penalty is a failed public policy that does nothing to keep North Carolina safe. We hope Gov. Cooper will look to the example of Europe, along with many U.S. states, and help our state let go of a punishment that is nothing more than a racist relic.