UN plans to take up new resolution on the use of the death penalty

NEW YORK (CIHAN)- Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told delegates he was “troubled” by the application of the death penalty for offences that do not meet the threshold under international human rights law of “most serious crimes”, including drug-related offences, consensual sexual acts and apostasy.

Speaking on Wednesday (2 July) at United Nations headquarters, Ban said that the General Assembly would soon take up the resolution on the moratorium on the use of the death penalty, first adopted in December 2007.

The resolution has traditionally called on all States to “progressively restrict the use of the death penalty and reduce the number of offences for which it may be imposed” and “to establish a moratorium on execution with a view to abolishing the death penalty.”

Ban said “I am also concerned with legislation in 14 States that permits the death penalty on children as well as the new phenomenon of sentencing large groups of individuals to death in mass trials.”

He noted that over the past two years, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights had convened a series of important Global Panel events on the death penalty, focusing on wrongful convictions, deterrence and public opinion, and discrimination.

He said “the Global Panel event on Discrimination illustrated how the odds are often stacked against the poor, ethnic minorities and other minority groups, who often lack access to effective legal representation. These discriminatory practices in the imposition of the death penalty further reinforce the calls for its universal abolition.”

Finally, Ban called on all States to take action in three critical areas during the next session of the General Assembly.

He said “First, ratify the Second Optional Protocol of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights aiming at the abolition of the death penalty. Second, support the resolution on the Moratorium on the use of the death penalty. Third, take concrete steps towards abolishing or no longer practicing this form of punishment.”

He underlined “the death penalty has no place in the 21st century. Together, we can finally end this cruel and inhumane practice everywhere around the world.”

On 18 December 2007, the UN General Assembly voted 104 to 54 in favour of a resolution which proclaims a global moratorium on the death penalty. Italy had proposed and sponsored this resolution.