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Human Rights Commissioner on the World Day against the Death Penalty

Press release

On the occasion of the 11th World Day against the Death Penalty (10 October), 42 Foreign Ministers of Council of Europe member states published the attached joint call for the abolition of the death penalty.

On this the 11th World Day against the Death Penalty I would like to thank all those who are committed to its abolition. This engagement is beginning to bear fruit. NGO’s and governments have joined forces to make progress in this field.

I am gratified to see that this cruel and inhumane punishment is on the retreat worldwide. Most recently, Benin and Mongolia abolished capital punishment, and in the spring Maryland became the 18th US state to take this step. More than two thirds of all countries have now abandoned capital punishment without officially abolishing it. This past autumn the United Nations General Assembly by a vast majority called upon all states to suspend the death penalty, pending its final abolition.

However, there have also been setbacks. A number of countries where the death penalty had been suspended for years or even decades have taken to carrying it out again. This is particularly shocking when it is done in a calculated attempt to mobilise support for political ideas or groups.

It is alarming to see that in a great many cases capital punishment is imposed in contempt of even the most basic standards. Due process is often not guaranteed. Some states carry out executions in public. Other countries tell death row inmates only at very short notice about their imminent execution, while their families are not informed until after it has been carried out, meaning they cannot take leave from each other. Moreover, minors are being executed time and again.

The death penalty is inhumane and cruel. It has no place in the 21st century. The Federal Government will continue to push for its worldwide abolition.

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