United Nations to discuss abolition of #deathpenalty by June end: Ban Ki-moon


Press Trust of India | Updated: June 14, 2013 08:21 IST

United Nations to discuss abolition of death penalty by June end: Ban Ki-moon

United NationsUnited Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has hailed the growing momentum against capital punishment, while voicing concern that a some countries continue to impose the death penalty, often in violation of international standards.In a message to the Fifth World Congress against the Death Penalty, held in Madrid, Mr. Ban said that the full abolition of the death penalty has support in every region and across legal systems, traditions, customs and religious backgrounds.

Currently, more than 150 countries have either abolished the death penalty or do not practise it. Last year, 174 United Nations Member States were “execution-free”, he said.

“Despite these positive trends, I am deeply concerned that a small number of States continue to impose the death penalty, and thousands of individuals are executed each year, often in violation of international standards,” said the Secretary-General.”Some countries with a longstanding de facto moratorium have recently resumed executions,” he noted.

He said that death penalty is at times used for offences that do not meet the threshold of “most serious crimes” such as drug crimes, and a few States impose capital punishment against juvenile offenders, in violation of international human rights law.

Ban also pointed out that information concerning the application of the death penalty is often cloaked in secrecy, and that the lack of data on the number of executions or the number of individuals on death row “seriously impedes” any informed national debate that may lead to abolition.

“The taking of life is too absolute and irreversible for one human being to inflict on another, even when backed by a legal process. Too often, multiple layers of judicial oversight still fail to reverse wrongful death penalty convictions for years and even decades,” he said.

This problem, he added, will be discussed at a UN panel in New York at the end of this month.

The UN General Assembly first voted on a moratorium in 2007, and again in December 2012, when it adopted a resolution calling for a progressive restriction on the use of capital punishment and eliminating it entirely for felons below the age of 18 and pregnant

 

Swiss Minister calls for ‘world without #deathpenalty’


Didier Burkhalter (left) with his Spanish counterpart, José Manuel García-Margallo y MarfilDidier Burkhalter (left) with his Spanish counterpart, José Manuel García-Margallo y Marfil (Keystone)

June 12, 2013 – 21:38

Swiss Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter has highlighted Switzerland’s commitment to the abolition of capital punishment at the opening of the Fifth World Congress against the Death Penalty in Madrid.

“Switzerland aims to ensure that those countries which have not as yet abolished the death penalty at least place a moratorium on its use,” he said in a statement released by the foreign ministry.

In it, he added that capital punishment was incompatible with the values represented by Switzerland and had an impact on the country’s other obligations such as the prohibition of discrimination.
 
The death penalty was abolished from Swiss federal criminal law in 1942, but remained available in military criminal law until 1992.

Together with Spain, France and Norway, Switzerland is patron of the Fifth World Congress against the Death Penalty which is hosting around 1,500 delegates from over 90 states in Madrid until Saturday.

Today, 140 of the world’s 198 states have renounced the use of capital punishment, but a quarter still retain the death penalty. Executions continue to take place every year in around 20 states – mainly China, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and the United States.

In 2012, various states (Botswana, Gambia, India, Japan, Pakistan and Kuwait) reapplied the death penalty after years of de facto moratorium, according to the foreign ministry.

Bilateral talks

Prior to the Fifth World Congress against the Death Penalty, Didier Burkhalter held bilateral talks with his Spanish counterpart, José Manuel García-Margallo y Marfil.

Topics set to be discussed included the OSCE chairmanship which will be taken over by Switzerland in 2014, the situation in Europe, youth unemployment and bilateral issues.

“Step-by-step progress”

The stated Swiss goal is a “world without the death penalty” as capital punishment cannot be reconciled with respect for human rights and, in particular, violates the right to life, said the foreign ministry statement.

“Switzerland strives for step-by-step progress with this goal in mind. It advocates for a moratorium or at least certain limitations to be placed on the use of capital punishment in states which continue to employ the death penalty through lobbying at both the multilateral and bilateral level.”

The foreign ministry also calls for compliance with international standards concerning withholding the death penalty for minors and non-enforcement of capital punishment for pregnant women or mentally disabled persons.

In this regard, Switzerland supports, among others, the work of the International Commission against the Death Penalty which was launched at the Fourth World Congress in Geneva in 2010.

swissinfo.ch and agencies

 

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