Pfizer decision on death row drugs welcomed by rights chief

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Ravina Shamsadani, Spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. UN File Photo

A decision by pharmaceutical giant Pfizer not to allow its drugs to be used in lethal injections of prisoners has been welcomed by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said that all companies should "avoid causing or contributing" to rights violations.

Here's Daniel Johnson in Geneva.

American pharmaceuticals giant Pfizer says it will now restrict the sale of seven drugs used in lethal injections in the United States.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein has welcomed the development, saying it shows how companies can help bring about an end to the death penalty.

The Pfizer decision follows a similar policy change by many European drugs manufacturers.

Here's Ravina Shamdasani, spokesperson for the High Commissioner:

"Pfizer's decision has made it even more difficult for States that continue to use the lethal injections to be able to source the injections, so this is a very welcome move…This particularly is important because we are talking about businesses, multinational corporations, which have considerable leverage, getting involved in this trend towards abolition."

In a statement, Zeid also urged States not to resort to questionable sources for the drugs required to administer lethal injections.

More than 160 states have either abolished the death penalty or do not practise it, and the United Nations says the trend is growing.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations, Geneva

Duration: 59″

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