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SCU Law Review brings European death penalty opponents to symposium

Wednesday, Mar. 6, 2002

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- March 6, 2002 - Advocates of new plans in Europe to expand the Council of Europe's ban on the death penalty to include crimes in time of war will be at the Santa Clara University School of Law on Friday, March 15.

Keynote speakers at an international symposium on the death penalty, sponsored by the SCU Law Review, are: Danielle Mitterrand, founder of the France Libertes foundation promoting an international ban on the death penalty; and Jeroen Schokkenbroek, head of the Human Rights Law and Policy Division of the Council of Europe.

The Council of Europe on Feb. 21 approved the text of a new protocol that would abolish the death penalty in the European Union under all circumstances, if approved by the Committee of Ministers when it meets May 3. The proposal would expand the council's death penalty ban, without reservation, to include crimes committed "in times of war and imminent threat of war." No country can join the European Union if it retains capital punishment, which has a potential impact on former Soviet bloc countries.

The protocol also has an impact on the investigations following September 11, as several countries have indicated their unwillingness to extradite terrorism suspects to the United States if they face the death penalty.

The expanded Council of Europe ban "is the latest affirmation of an international trend away from capital punishment," said SCU law professor Ellen Kreitzberg, who directs a Death Penalty College each summer at the law school.

Kreitzberg noted that Russia has commuted the death sentences of over 700 prisoners, and the United Nations Commission on Human Rghts voted in 1999 in favor of an international moratorium on the death penalty. The Law Review and a French anti-death penalty organization, Ensemble Contre la Peine de Mort, are co-hosting the day-long symposium on March 15, which will bring lawyers and legal scholars together to discuss how the continued practice of capital punishment in the U.S. may conflict with international treaties and human rights standards. Mitterrand, wife of the late French President Francois Mitterrand, will deliver the keynote at 9 a.m., followed by Schokkenbroek.

The session at the Brass Rail room, lower level of Benson Memorial Center at SCU, begins with registration at 8 a.m., with speeches and two panel discussions following in the morning session: "Conflicts between the United States practice of capital punishment and international and human rights issues," 9:40-10:50 a.m.; and "Incorporating international human rights norms into United States capital case practice," 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

A 1:45 p.m. -3 p.m. panel will discuss "Compelling strategies and barriers to the abolition and moratorium (on the death penalty) movement." At the symposium, law professors from New York University, University of San Francisco, American University, Gonzaga University, Hastings College of Law; and representatives from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and Amnesty International will join legal experts in criminal and international law.

The session, open to the public, has been approved for five hours of continuing education credits by the State Bar of California. The fee for lawyer participants for MCLE credits is $75; fee for representatives of non-profits is $25; there is no charge for faculty and students. For more information about the Law Review Symposium, see www.scu.edu/lawreview. To register, call 408-554-4074 before March 10, or 408-554-4724 after March 10. Registrations will be accepted the day of the event, space permitting.

Mitterrand and Schokkenbroek will be available for media interviews from 11 a.m. until noon on March 15 in the Benson Center. Parking is available on the north side of Benson Center. For more information, directions, or to schedule an interview with Kreitzberg, Mitterrand or Schokkenbroek, call Barry Holtzclaw, SCU Media Relations, 408-554-5126, or e-mail news@scu.edu.

About the School of Law

The SCU School of Law, founded in 1912, combines a tradition of excellence with a commitment to ethics, diversity, and social justice, and is fully accredited by the American Bar Association. Its 900 students work in criminal and civil community law clinics, and may earn certificates in intellectual properly law, international law or public interest law. In pursuit of this tradition, the SCU School of Law is home to the Northern California Innocence Project that provides free legal representation to prisoners seeking to prove their actual innocence. Every summer, capital case practitioners from across the U.S. attend the Death Penalty College.

About Santa Clara University

Santa Clara University, a comprehensive Jesuit, Catholic university located in California's Silicon Valley, offers its 7,400 students rigorous undergraduate curricula in arts and sciences, business, and engineering, plus master's and law degrees. California's oldest higher education institution demonstrates faith-inspired values of ethics and social justice. For more information, see www.scu.edu.

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