Italy to campaign at UN for death penalty ban



Italy's Prime Minister, Romano Prodi, says that Italy will plan a set of activities at the United Nations to help make it illegal for any country in the world to carry out the death penalty.

Romano Prodi, the leader of the current centre-left coalition, said Italy will lobby actively at the United Nations for an end to capital punishment worldwide. The Italian ambassador to the UN has already called upon the General Assembly to re-examine a document already presented for debate last month. Italy took up one of the ten non-permanent seats on the Security Council this week.

Mr. Prodi said at the weekend that no crime can justify one person killing another. This is a principle which all civilisations and religions share, he said. Italy presented proposals for a moratorium on the death penalty at the UN assembly in 1994 and again in 1995 and last July the Italian parliament approved a cross-party motion urging the government to table yet another moratorium proposal but this came to nothing because of disagreement among Italy’s EU partners.

Politicians from both left and right have been expressing disgust at the execution of Saddam Hussein. The former prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, called his hanging "a political and historic error". The outcry has also been reflected by almost universal condemnation in the Italian press of the press leaks and videos of the hanging of the former Iraqi leader. The semi official Vatican daily, L’Osservatore Romano, said the transformation of the final moments of Saddam Hussein's life into a public spectacle was a violation of a fundamental human right.

The Iraqi government has said that Italy has no right to criticise Saddam Hussein's execution when, at the end of the Second World War, the fascist dictator, Benito Mussolini, was killed by partisans and left hanging by his feet in a Milan square to the derision of the crowds. Mussolini's granddaughter, Alessandra, a right-wing MP, joined in the argument saying she found the killing of Saddam Hussein disgusting and shameful.


Part A. Reading Comprehension.

I. Answer the following questions using your own words but taking into account the information in the text. (2 points: 1 point each)

a) What did Berlusconi call Saddam Hussein’s hanging?

b) What has the Iraqi government said about Italy?


II. Are the following statements true (T) or false (F)? Identify the part of the text that supports your answer. (1.5 point: 0.5 each)

a. All of the Italian press has condemned the press leaks and videos of the hanging.

b. There are only ten seats on the Security Council.

c. The Iraqi government says Mussolini hanged partisans in a Milan square.


III. Find a synonym for each of the four words below from these six options: (1 point: 0.25 each)

moratorium       leaks      justify      spectacle        condemnation        derision

a) give a good excuse.

b) strong disapproval.

c) private or secret information which is given to the media.

d) an official period of delay.


IV. Choose a, b, or c, in each question below. Only one choice is correct. (1.5 points: 0.5 each)

1. “No crime can justify one person killing another” is …

a) one of Mr. Prodi’s principles.

b) an Italian proposal.

c) a principle shared by many.

2. L’Osservatore Romano…

a) is published officially by the Vatican every day.

b) says that Saddam Hussein´s execution was a violation of his human rights.

c) says that Saddam Hussein had violated all fundamental human rights.

3. Roman Prodi…

a) is currently the leader of the centre-left coalition.

b) is the Italian ambassador to the European Union.

c) is planning a set of illegal activities at the UN.


Part B. Composition (130-150 words approximately). Choose one of the following topics. (4 points)

1. What do you think of capital punishment?

2. What are the disadvantages of capital punishment?