A group of UN human rights experts spoke Friday on the subject of the death penalty and terrorism, calling the death penalty ineffective [press release], and often times illegal, in deterring to terrorism. Speaking ahead of the World Day Against the Death Penalty, the rights experts stated it has taken notice of governments relying upon the death penalty in order to battle terrorism, either reintroducing capital punishment or expanding the scope of offenses it is applicable to—a policy that contradicts the international movement to abolish the death penalty in all circumstances. Currently, 65 countries maintain some form of the death penalty for terrorism related crimes. The experts were emphatic that there is no sufficient evidence of the death penalty providing more satisfactory results in curbing terrorism than through other forms of punishment, going so far as to say “terrorists who are executed may just gain in prestige as may their cause.” In conclusion, the experts called upon nations engaged in resolving the issue of terrorism “to ensure that the programmes to which they contribute do not ultimately result in violations of the right to life.”
Capital punishment [JURIST op-ed] remains a controversial issue in the US and worldwide. In July, following a failed military coup, the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated he would approve reinstating the death penalty [JURIST report] if he garnered sufficient backing from the Grand National Assembly. In May a spokesperson for the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights condemned [JURIST report] Iranian authorities for the sentencing of Nargis Mohammadi, an anti-death penalty activist. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein welcomed [JURIST report] the measures being taken by pharmaceutical giant Pfizer to prevent the use of its drugs in state-sponsored execution by lethal injection. UN human rights experts expressed [JURIST report] grave concern earlier that month over Belarus’ death penalty practices after reports surfaced that a man was executed while his case was before the UN Human Rights Committee.