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UN General Assembly passes worldwide death penalty moratorium

[JURIST] The UN General Assembly [official website] Tuesday voted 104-54 with 29 abstentions [press release; UN debate summary] in favor of a resolution [text] calling for a worldwide moratorium on the death penalty [JURIST news archive]. Though non-binding, supporters of the resolution believe international opinion against capital punishment is growing. The US voted against the resolution, joining with Syria, Iran, China and other nations against Israel, the European Union and other anti-death penalty states. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon praised the vote [statement text] as "a bold step by the international community." Amnesty International and anti-death penalty group Hands Off Cain [press releases] also welcomed the news of the resolution's passage.

Last month, the UN General Assembly's Third Committee [official website] on Thursday voted 99-52 to pass the resolution. Opponents of the resolution [text; JURIST report], including the US, Singapore, Egypt, Nigeria and Botswana, argued [JURIST report] before the committee that it would infringe on nations' sovereignty. Two previous attempts to pass somewhat similar resolutions failed to win a majority in the 192-member Assembly. This time, however, the resolution called for a suspension, rather than a complete abolition, of capital punishment. AP has more.

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