Death penalty practices must be reconsidered

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Photo: UN/MINUSTAH/Logan Abassi

The practice of putting people to death for crimes they've committed needs to come to an end worldwide.

That was the call from participants in a high-level event held on Tuesday at the UN in New York.

Experts and advocates alike said there was no room for the death penalty in the modern day world.

Veronica Reeves has the story.

When the United Nations was founded 70 years ago, only 14 countries had abolished the death penalty. Now, seven decades later, 82 per cent of UN Member States have either introduced moratoria or completely abolished the practice.

Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein is the UN's High Commission on Human Rights. In delivering a statement at Tuesday's event on behalf of the UN Secretary-General, he expressed concern that despite the fact that many countries were moving away from the death penalty, some nations were actually executing more people in recent years.

"Frequently these policies are justified by authorities invoking the rights of crime victims' families. In reality, many murder victims' families believe that responding to one killing with another does not honour the victim."

He went on to say that when miscarriages of justice result in an execution, the state, in his words "becomes the killer".

Veronica Reeves, United Nations.

Duration: 58″

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