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UN committee approves death penalty moratorium

[JURIST] The UN General Assembly's Third Committee [official website] on Thursday voted 99-52 to place a worldwide moratorium [press release] on the death penalty [JURIST news archive]. Thirty-three countries abstained from the vote. Opponents of the resolution [text; JURIST report], including Singapore, Egypt, and Botswana, argued [JURIST report] before the committee Wednesday that it would infringe on nations' sovereignty, and presented a list of 14 last-minute amendments emphasizing nations' right to set criminal punishments. The amendments were all ultimately rejected. The US voted against the resolution, which will go to the UN General Assembly [official website] later this year. Though non-binding, supporters of the resolution believe international opinion against capital punishment is growing.

The resolution states that capital punishment "undermines human dignity," that "there is no conclusive evidence of the death penalty's deterrent value" and that "any miscarriage or failure of justice in [its] implementation is irreversible and irreparable." Two previous attempts to abolish the death penalty failed to win a majority in the 192-member assembly. This time, however, the resolution calls for a suspension, rather than a complete abolition, of capital punishment. BBC News has more. The UN News Centre has additional coverage.

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