, MADRID, Jun 19 – World leaders who had gathered in Madrid for the 5th World Congress against Death Penalty have resolved to push for global end to capital punishment.
Led by the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, Tunisia’s President and Ministers from France, Spain, Rwanda and Norway among others termed the death penalty as inhumane and degrading.
As the four-day conference concluded hundreds of abolitionists reviewed death penalty developments and agreed on abolitionist strategies.
The Congress brought together international experts, campaigners and high-profile figures including Nobel Peace Prize laureates, ex-death row inmates and families of people sentenced to death from over 90 countries.
In his message UN chief Ban said that the full abolition of the death penalty has support in every region and across legal systems, traditions, customs and religious backgrounds.
“Despite these positive trends, I am deeply concerned that a small number of States continue to impose the death penalty, and thousands of individuals are executed each year, often in violation of international standards,” said the Secretary-General.
Ban has also announced that the UN panel will at the end of June discuss the continued use of the death penalty by some countries.
The UN General Assembly first voted on a moratorium in 2007, and again in December 2012, when it adopted a resolution calling for a progressive restriction on the use of capital punishment and eliminating it entirely for felons below the age of 18 and pregnant women.
Although not legally binding, the UN moratorium on executions carries moral and political weight.
Supporting the ban on the capital punishment, retired South African clergy Desmond Tutu said countries should move fast to abolish the death sentence, as a punishment.
“There is no justice in killing, in the name of justice. It is a ghastly punishment. We must bring an irreversible end to this doctrine of revenge,” he said.
In 2012 at least 682 prisoners were executed in 21 countries, and 1,722 people were sentenced to death in 58 countries.
In the final resolution the abolitionists called on the intergovernmental and international organisations to continue and intensify their cooperation with States and civil society to promote the universal abolition of the death penalty.
They also called on retentionists state like Kenya to reduce by law the list of crimes punished by the death penalty including those related to the repression of drug trafficking and the fight against terrorism.
The congress which was organised by the Association Together against the Death Penalty (ECPM) also urged countries still penalising through executions to comply with International Convention on the Rights of the Child; renouncing the execution of minors.