Human Rights Commissioner marks World Day against the Death Penalty

10.10.2014 - Press release

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

On this World Day against the Death Penalty, I thank all those who campaign against that horrific and inhuman punishment.

We are seeing encouraging signs. The trend towards abolishing capital punishment is ongoing. The Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty, now has a membership of 81 countries. Even where the practice has not been formally abolished, more than two in three countries worldwide have already stopped putting people to death.

I am concerned to see the capital punishment debate gaining ground once again in some of those countries. We need to be extremely vigilant on that score. The death penalty is not some idiosyncrasy of certain cultures or religions. It is shocking to see it dragged into the political debate as a calculated tactic to mobilise support for a political camp or idea.

This year, the European Union will once again join partners around the world to sponsor a UN General Assembly resolution against the death penalty. The previous resolution on the subject, in 2012, had the support of a large majority of UN member states. I hope that we can repeat and indeed surpass that powerful message of opposition to the death penalty.

Capital punishment has no place in the 21st century. The Federal Government will continue to push for its worldwide abolition.

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