UN humanitarian chief reiterates call for abolition of death penalty

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Navi Pillay

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has called on countries that still have capital punishment to move swiftly to abolish it.

Navi Pillay made the call on Wednesday in her address to the UN Human Rights Council.

The UN human rights chief said that since the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, there has been what she called "accelerating progress made towards abolition."

Ms. Pillay noted that around 160 countries in the world have either abolished the death penalty, introduced a moratorium or didn't practice it.

"There is no evidence that the death penalty deters crime anymore than other forms of punishment.  It is not the severity of punishment that deters wrongdoers but its certainty. To curb crimes the focus should therefore lie on reforming the justice system and rendering it more effective while also ensuring that it is humane." (23")

Ms. Pillay said the death penalty is not reconcilable with human rights and in applying it "the odds are often stacked against the poor, minorities and other common targets of discrimination."

She added that the other problem with the death penalty is that whenever it is used, there is a grave risk that individuals are executed for crimes they did not commit.

Jocelyne Sambira, United Nations

Duration: 1’20″


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