UN chief calls for abolition of death penalty News
UN chief calls for abolition of death penalty
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[JURIST] UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official profile] on Monday reiterated his call for global support against the use of death penalty [statement]. The message was delivered by UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Kyung-wha Kang [official profile] in an event organized by the International Commission against Death Penalty [advocacy website]. Ban stressed that death penalty should be abolished because it is inconsistent with the most fundamental human right principle: right to life. He also expressed concern that some states which have abolished the controversial practice has resumed imposing death penalty and proceeded with executions. He reiterated that “[t]he taking of life is too absolute, too irreversible, for one human being to inflict on another, even when backed by legal process.” Ban urged that the trend of abolishing capital punishment should be continued:

Capital punishment is inconsistent with the mission of the United Nations to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights and the dignity and worth of the human person. A global moratorium is a crucial stepping stone towards full worldwide abolition. I urge you to use this meeting to consider how to further this end.

A moratorium on the death penalty was first approved [JURIST report] by the UN General Assembly [official website] in 2007 and, as of December 2012, has gained the support of 111 countries, with 41 against and 34 neither supporting nor opposing.

The use of the death penalty has remained a controversial issue around the globe. Earlier this month, a Kashmiri militant who received the death penalty for participating in the 2001 attack on India’s parliament was executed [JURIST report] after India’s president turned down his plea for clemency. Also this month, two UN human rights experts expressed concern over the death sentence [JURIST reports] imposed by the International Crimes Tribunal Bangladesh (ICBT) on Abdul Kalam Azad for crimes during the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War [GlobalSecurity backgrounder]. The experts argued that the trial failed to provide for guarantees of a fair trial and due process. Last month an Egyptian court upheld the in absentia death sentences [JURIST report] of seven Coptic Christians and an American preacher on charges stemming from the amateur anti-Muslim film Innocence of Muslims, which sparked violent protests in the Middle East last year. Also last month, Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley announced that he will file legislation to repeal [JURIST report] capital punishment in the state of Maryland.