Trend against death penalty "increasingly strong" but concerns remain

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Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, UN Human Rights Commissioner. Photo: UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré

The global trend against the use of the death penalty "has become increasingly strong" but there's still much cause for concern.

That's the view of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, speaking during the current session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

Matthew Wells reports.

The Human Rights chief made the opening statement during a High Level panel discussion on the death penalty "and the prohibition of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment."

"The severe mental and physical suffering which are inflicted by capital punishment on the person concerned and family members should now be added to the weight of the argument. The use of the death penalty should be ended."

Zeid said that ten years on from a General Assembly resolution urging Member States to adopt a moratorium on the use of the death penalty, almost three quarters of all states had either abolished it, or do not practice it.

However, other trends were cause for alarm, such as the fact that the overall number of executions in states that retain capital punishment had increased in the past two years.

Some states which have had a moratorium in place for many years, have also recently resumed executions, added Zeid.

He also urged other sectors of society to help end the death penalty, and pointed to the recent decision by some companies to stop prison authorities from buying their medications to use in executions via lethal injection.

Matthew Wells, United Nations.

Duration: 1'06"

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