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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
05VATICAN553 2005-12-13 16:03:00 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Vatican
Cable title:  

SANT EGIDIO ASSEMBLES AFRICAN JUSTICE MINISTERS

Tags:   PHUM PREL PGOV VT 
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1. (SBU) The Rome-based Sant'Egidio Community brought together
justice ministers from several African states in November to
consider their respective governments' positions on the death
penalty and other issues involving their penal systems.
Sant'Egidio's Mario Giro told us that the participation of many
Muslims in the event was significant. He told us that if
Morocco eventually removes the death penalty from its books, it
would be the first predominantly Islamic country to do so. The
Community's ability to attract top African ministers highlights
its continued clout in the continent. End Summary.



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SANT'EGIDIO'S CLOUT BRINGS MINISTERS TOGETHER


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2. (U) The Rome-based Sant'Egidio Community brought together
justice ministers and other representatives from several African
states to consider their respective governments' positions on
the death penalty and explore issues involving their penal
systems November 28-29. The meeting involved ministers and
deputy ministers of justice from a dozen countries, including
Mozambique, Morocco, Liberia, Senegal, Benin, Burundi, Central
African Republic, Burkina Faso, Niger, Togo, and Malawi.



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MINISTERIAL CHANGE OF HEART OVER DEATH PENALTY


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3. (SBU) Liberia's Kabineh Janeh appealed to Sant'Egidio and
the international community for assistance in re-writing his
country's constitution to reflect the rejection of the death
penalty and a renewed emphasis on the value of human life.
Janeh, a Muslim, used to favor the death penalty but has since
changed sides on the issue. Sant'Egidio's Mario Giro told us
that the participation of many Muslims in the event was
significant. He noted that if Morocco eventually removes the
death penalty from its books, it would be the first
predominantly Islamic country to do so. Participants also
discussed prison conditions and issues involving prisoner
rehabilitation.



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COMMENT


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4. (U) Giro told us he was very pleased with the strong
turnout for the event and said a follow-up meeting somewhere in
Africa was possible, as was another conference on the same
subject in Rome next year. The Community's ability to attract
top African ministers highlights its continued clout in the
continent; in addition to this issue Sant'Egidio is active in
conflict resolution in several areas in Africa (e.g., Sudan,
Togo, Great Lakes) and is currently expanding its successful
HIV/AIDS anti-retroviral DREAM project to additional African
countries (reftels). Although the Community has also been
active in China, the Middle East, Europe, and elsewhere, its
greatest expertise still rests in Africa, where local membership
has been key to its success. End comment.
ROONEY


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2005VATICA00553 - Classification: UNCLASSIFIED