Between 1993 and 2012, the number of countries worldwide that abolished the death penalty grew from 55 to 97. By the end of last year, 140 countries—more than 2/3 of the countries of the world—were abolitionist in law or in practice.
The European Union (EU) considers capital punishment to be a cruel and inhuman punishment, which fails to provide a deterrent to criminal behaviour and represents an unacceptable denial of human dignity and integrity. Any miscarriage of justice—inevitable in any legal system—is irreversible.
In this context the EU works both on individual cases and towards moratoria of the application of the death penalty and, in due course, abolition. The EU is fully committed to continuing its efforts to promote the permanent abolition of capital punishment and funded more than €20 million worth of activities worldwide that supported capital punishment abolition.
In observance of International World Day against the Death Penalty on 10 October, the EU Member States and the Delegation of the European Union to Trinidad and Tobago, with support from the trinidad+tobago film festival and technical assistance from North 11, will host a free public screening of the documentary film Into the Abyss.
Subtitled A Tale of Death, a Tale of Life, the film was written and directed by the acclaimed German filmmaker Werner Herzog, and tells the story of two young men convicted of a triple homicide which occurred in Texas in 2001. Michael Perry received a death sentence for the crime, and Jason Burkett received a life sentence. The film focuses on the two convicts and various people affected by the crime, including the families of the victims and a former death-row executioner. Perry’s final interviews for the film were recorded only eight days before his execution on July 1, 2010.
Critic Roger Ebert in the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film four out of four stars and praised Herzog’s even-handedness, saying, “In some of his films he freely shares his philosophy and insights. In this film, he simply looks. He always seems to know where to look.” Variety critic Peter Debruge, meanwhile, noted, “These days, true-crime docs are a dime a dozen, and yet, Into the Abyss dares to plumb the dark hole in America’s soul…. [I]ts findings are undeniably profound.”
The free-of-charge screening of Into the Abyss takes place in the UTT Theatre at NAPA, Port of Spain, on 10 October at 6.30pm. Tickets are available at the screening as of 5.30pm on a first-come, first-served basis.
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