"No place for death penalty in 21st Century": UN chief

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UN Secretary-General António Guterres addresses an event on the occasion of the World Day Against the Death Penalty. UN Photo/Manuel Elias

There is "no place" for the death penalty in the 21st Century and it needs to be abolished as soon as possible.

That's the passionate call from UN chief António Guterres on Tuesday, marking World Day Against the Death Penalty.

The UN human rights office, OHCHR, called on all states to ratify the universal treaty which would abolish the death penalty, if it came into force.

More details from Matt Wells.

Last month, Madagascar became the 85th state to ratify the Second Optional Protocol which would abolish the death penalty, and Gambia moved a step closer by signing it.

Some 170 countries have either abolished the death penalty or stopped using it, but UN Secretary General António Guterres told a high-level event in New York, that four countries alone were responsible for 87 per cent of all remaining executions.

The UN chief said it did little to serve victims or deter crime, and there was always an unacceptable risk of miscarriages of justice.

"Please stop the executions. The death penalty has no place in the 21st Century. Today on the World Day Against the Death Penalty, I reaffirm my opposition to the death penalty in all circumstances. And I invite all those states that have abolished the death penalty to support our call on the leaders of those that retain it, to establish an official moratorium with a view to abolition as soon as possible."

Although the world was now "moving in the right direction," Mr Guterres said there was a trend of reversing often long-standing moratoria on the death penalty, in terrorism cases.

Matt Wells, United Nations.

Duration: 1'04"

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