[JURIST] UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon [official website] said Wednesday in response to a press question about Italy's recent push for an international death penalty moratorium [IPS report] that he supports the international trend towards abolishing the death penalty. Ban came under fire from human rights groups earlier this month after he told the press [JURIST report] January 2, in the immediate wake of the Saddam Hussein execution and one day after his tenure as secretary-general began, that "[t]he issue of capital punishment is for each and every Member State to decide."
Earlier this month, Iraq executed two Hussein co-defendants [JURIST report] over Ban's objections [JURIST report]. Ban had released a statement [text] "strongly [urging] the Government of Iraq to grant a stay of execution to those whose death sentences may be carried out in the near future." Ban is a citizen of South Korea, which is one of 84 sovereign states that practice capital punishment [Amnesty International list]. AP has more.