The UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, has said that death penalty has no place in the 21st century.
He called on all states to take concrete steps toward abolishing or stopping this form of punishment.
“Together, we can finally end this cruel and inhumane practice everywhere around the world,” Mr. Ki-Moon said.
He spoke at a panel co-organised at the UN Headquarters by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, OHCHR, and the Permanent Mission of Italy to the UN.
The event was titled Best Practices And Challenges In Implementing A Moratorium On The Death Penalty, and in line with the aims of the annual resolution of the UN General Assembly on the Moratorium On The Use Of The Death penalty first adopted in 2007.
Mr. Ki-Moon noted, in the event moderated by Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, Ivan Šimonovic, that the Assembly would soon take up the resolution again.
“The efforts generated by the text have won a broader margin of support from member states, representing a variety of legal systems, traditions, cultures and religious backgrounds. I remain very concerned, however, about shortcomings with respect to international human rights standards in countries that still apply the death penalty,” he said.
He said he was particularly troubled by the application of the death penalty for offences that did not meet the threshold under international human rights law of “most serious crimes.”
Such offences, he said, included drug-related offences, consensual sexual acts, and apostasy.
The UN chief went on to express concern about legislation in 14 states that permitted the death penalty on children as well as the new phenomenon of sentencing large groups of individuals to death.
He said over the past two years, OHCHR had convened a series of important global panel events on the death penalty. He said the focus of the meetings was on wrongful convictions, deterrence, public opinion and discrimination.
He called on all states to take action in three critical areas, which included ratification of the Second Optional Protocol of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights aiming at the abolition of the death penalty.
He asked member states to support the resolution on the moratorium on the use of the death penalty. He said that concrete steps towards abolishing or no longer practicing this form of punishment should be taken.
Since 2007, the General Assembly has adopted four resolutions calling on states to establish a moratorium on the use of the death penalty with a view to abolishing it.
As at today, about 150 of the UN’s 193 member states have either abolished the death penalty or no longer practice it.