United Nations Secretary-General, Mr. Ban Ki-moon has called on member states still operating the death penalty to abolish its practice, and stressed that the right to life lies at the heart of international human rights law.
“The taking of life is too absolute, too irreversible, for one human being to inflict on another, even when backed by legal process,” Mr. Ban told a panel organised by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on “Moving away from the death penalty – Lessons from national experiences” at UN Headquarters in New York.
“Where the death penalty persists, conditions for those awaiting execution are often horrifying, leading to aggravated suffering, so death penalty must be abolished” he added.
In 2007, the General Assembly endorsed a call for a worldwide moratorium of the death penalty. Since then, the practice has been abolished by countries like Argentina, Burundi, Gabon, Latvia, Togo and Uzbekistan. More than 150 States have either abolished the death penalty or do not practice it.
However, Mr. Ban noted that the death penalty was still used for a wide range of crimes in various countries. In particular, he expressed concern that 32 States retain the death penalty for drug-related offences, and its use on juvenile offenders.
“I am also very concerned that some countries still allow juvenile offenders under the age of 18 at the time of the alleged offence to be sentenced to death and executed,” Mr. Ban said.