Many countries don't carry out death penalty, says UN expert

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Christof Heyns

More than 90 countries have abolished the death penalty and close to fifty others have not executed anyone for the last ten years, according to a United Nations independent expert.

Christof Heyns, the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions presented his report to the General Assembly on Thursday.

He told reporters that although the death penalty is still a reality with about 18,000 people on death row worldwide, it is clear that there is a trend away from capital punishment around the world.

"If we look at the UN member states 193, out of this group 94 of them have, in terms of their laws already abolished the death penalty and then another 49 have not executed for the last ten years and in fact, one can say there is a moratorium. So there are really only 50 states that still execute and last year out of these 50 states 21 of them executed specifically last year and of those 21 seven of them only executed more than 20 people."

(Duration: 27")

Mr. Heyns said this is a very different picture from twenty or thirty years ago with fewer states carrying out the death penalty and even those that execute now have increasing respect for international standards.

He said that a large number of states with death penalty have abolished the mandatory nature of the death penalty for all crimes or some crimes and very few still execute minors under 18 years of age.

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