High-Level discussion on death penalty: why and how to abolish

On the occasion of the high-level segment of the Human Rights Council 22nd session running in Geneva from 25 February to 22 March 2013, the International Commission against Death Penalty (ICDP) – a body set-up to obtain a global abolition of the death penalty and composed of several persons with international prestige in the field of human rights- organized a discussion on: “Death Penalty: Why and how to abolish?” icadplogo
Discussions opened with a message on behalf of the United Nations (UN) Secretary General Ban Ki Moon delivered by Ms. Kyung-wha Kang, Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights in which he reiterated that a global moratorium is a crucial step towards worldwide abolition and the commitment of the UN to work in this direction. Panelists affirmed the UN Secretary General’s message with four reasons why the death penalty should be abolished. First, capital punishment is a violation of human dignity. Second, it dehumanizes our societies. Then, there is no conclusive evidence of the value of death penalty in reducing crime and last but crucial, capital punishment is irrevocable.

In response to the question of how to abolish the death penalty, several initiatives were highlighted. One initiative is the organization of the fifth global conference against death penalty in Madrid next June. Another initiative comes from Belgium, who along with other countries, is going to table a resolution during the Human Rights Council 22nd session. The Belgian initiative proposes to organize a panel during the upcoming Human Rights Council 24th session in September this year on the rights of children of parents who are sentenced to death or have been executed.

Although the use of death penalty for crimes committed by people under 18 is prohibited under international human rights law (as well for pregnant women and mentally disabled), executions of minors is prevalent. Participants at the ICDP discussion shared stories about executions of children in Iran and Sri Lanka.