Human Rights Commissioner Strässer on the use of the death penalty in India

30.07.2015 - Press release

The Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid, Christoph Strässer, issued the following statement on the execution carried out in India on 30 July:

I am deeply shocked by today’s execution of Yakub Memon in Nagpur, India. Like all other EU member states, Germany opposes the death penalty without exception. We will continue to campaign with our partners for its worldwide abolition.

From 2004 to 2012, there was a de facto moratorium on the use of the death penalty in India. I have also been following the intense debate on the death penalty among the public in India in recent weeks with great interest. There were encouraging signs and clear support for the marked global trend to discontinue and abolish the death penalty. I call on the Indian Government to return to a moratorium and to take steps to abolish the death penalty.

Background information:

Yakub Memon (53) was sentenced to death eight years ago for his role in the deadly terrorist attacks in Mumbai in March 1993. Two of the suspected ringleaders are still at large. In 2013, the Supreme Court of India upheld the sentence against Yakub Memon. President Mukherjee rejected an appeal for clemency in April 2014. Last-minute attempts to stay the execution failed yesterday when the Supreme Court of India dismissed procedural complaints and a final mercy plea was not accepted.

Memon’s execution is the third time that the death penalty has been carried out in India since an eight-year de facto moratorium ended in 2012. Reasons for and against the death penalty are currently being intensely debated among the public in India. Two reports on the death penalty in India are due to be published in mid-August. The Law Commission of India will present recommendations to Parliament and the National Law University will publish an empirical study on all of the over 400 people currently sentenced to death in India. This report is expected to provide information on the overall social context of the imposition of the death penalty in India.

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