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Human Rights Commissioner marks World Day against the Death Penalty

10.10.2015

Christoph Strässer, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid at the Federal Foreign Office, issued the following statement on 10 October, the World Day against the Death Penalty:

To mark the World Day against the Death Penalty today, we are calling for a worldwide effort to abolish capital punishment! I encourage everyone who is taking a stand against this horrific and inhumane punishment to continue their efforts.

Despite the pleasing global trend towards abolition of the death penalty and increasing numbers of ratifications of agreements to this end, we view the growing number of executions in certain countries with great concern. In China, Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Iraq the number of executions has recently risen considerably. We strongly urge these countries to abolish capital punishment and call upon those countries which have lifted their moratoria on executions to reconsider their decision.

Executions often take place following questionable verdicts based on confessions obtained through torture. It is alarming to see that in a great many cases capital punishment is imposed in contempt of even the most basic standards (fair trial, legal representation, translation). States unable to guarantee consistent law enforcement are willing to accept that sometimes there will be miscarriages of justice. Furthermore, new technology shows that people have been wrongly convicted in many cases – which also calls into question the imposition of an irreversible punishment by death.

Often, the fight against terrorism is cited as a reason for these verdicts – but in fact human rights violations contribute to a social climate that fosters instability and terrorism. It is a mistake to believe that the death penalty is an effective way to fight crime.

The German Government is categorically opposed to the death penalty, for it is an inhumane form of punishment which has no place in the 21st century. Germany will continue to push consistently for its worldwide abolition, together with its partners in the EU.

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