Intervención del Secretario para las Relaciones con los Estados en el Congreso de las Naciones Unidas sobre Prevención del Delito y Justicia Penal

Statement by H.E. Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States of the Holy See, at the 14th United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (Kyoto, 7-12 March 2021)

Madam President,

At the outset, allow me to extend the best wishes of His Holiness Pope Francis to the participants of this 14th United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice. I would like to thank the People and the Government of Japan, as well as the staff of UNODC, for their tireless endeavours in organising and hosting this event during these challenging times, marked by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Madam President,

The Holy See is firmly convinced that the rule of law, crime prevention and criminal justice must go hand in hand. The implementation of the rule of law is essential to achieve a true integral human development; as such, it requires not only the efforts of law enforcement authorities but also the engagement of society at large. Preventing and responding to criminal activities is closely interrelated with the respect for, and protection of, universal human rights, at both the national and international levels.

We are well aware that crime draws its vitality from economic and social inequalities, as well as from corruption, claiming victims especially among those in vulnerable situations. The pandemic has only made this situation worse. On the other hand, crime prevention must not be reduced to its punitive aspects. As Pope Francis noted: “true justice is not satisfied by simply punishing criminals. It is essential to go further and do everything possible to reform, improve and educate the person.” [1] Criminal law systems must, in fact, apply both the principle of caution to prevent any encroachment on basic human rights and freedoms, and the pro homine principle, aimed at protecting always the dignity of the human person. Only by observing these two principles, will it be possible to attain a truly restorative criminal justice.

To conclude, I would like to reiterate Pope Francis’ appeal for a “humanizing, reconciling justice, a justice that leads the criminal […] to rehabilitation and reintegration into the community.” [2]

Thank you, Madam President.

____________________________________

[1]  Pope Francis, Letter to Participants in the 19th International Congress of the International Association of Penal Law and of the 3rd Congress of the Latin-American Association of Penal Law and Criminology, 30 May 2014.

[2]  Pope Francis, Letter to Participants in the 19th International Congress of the International Association of Penal Law and of the 3rd Congress of the Latin-American Association of Penal Law and Criminology, 30 May 2014.

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