Dominicans Call for End to Death Penalty

General Chapter Closes in Rhode Island

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PROVIDENCE, Rhode Island, AUG. 8, 2001 (Zenit.org).- At the close of their general chapter, Dominican delegates issued calls for an end to the death penalty, a worldwide moratorium on executions, and more help for poor countries battered by AIDS.



The delegates, from more than 100 countries, ended their monthlong meeting today, the feast of St. Dominic, with a call to "all men and women of good will." A press release said the general chapter:

--"calls upon all the states of the international community to abolish the death penalty, without delay and in all circumstances."

--"asks all governments that have not yet abolish the death penalty to suspend executions without delay."

--"calls for the revision of the economic sanctions. The economic sanctions, imposed as an alternative to the use of force, notably against Iraq and Cuba, have not obtained the desired effects for democracy and peace, but have had devastating effects on the civil populations."

Noting the inability of poor nations to pay for the drugs they need to fight the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the statement said:

"The necessary remedies for the prevention and treatment of AIDS are sold at a prohibitive price for the poorer countries, which are the most affected. However, certain firms have been accused of being preoccupied with profits as witnessed by the Johannesburg lawsuit of April 2001. Even if, for the first time, the lawsuit has brought about a retreat on the part of the firms and has permitted one to hope for a reduction in the prices of treatments by means of generic drugs, the problems remain.

"We denounce the perverse effects of the actual use of these pharmaceutical patents (the TRIPS Agreement -- Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property) which prevents access to generic medications in developing countries, and we are oppose to a revision of these agreements that would be unfavorable to the impoverished and the deprived."

The statement added: "We ask the governments of the wealthiest countries to agree on a reduction of the debt for the poorer indebted countries in order to allow them to allot this money in the fight against HIV."

It continued: "We ask that the governments of developing countries, assisted by the NGOs, put in place an effective policy of information and prevention, of defense of the family and of education of human sexuality; that they make the fight against AIDS a national priority; that they import and that they produce generic drugs in greater quantities; that they assure, with international help, that the necessary material structures are in place so that the sick can have access to care."