UN chief urges Pakistan to end executions, reinstate death penalty moratorium

Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif of Pakistan. UN Photo/Cia Pak

26 December 2014 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called on the Government of Pakistan to bring an end to the executions of all convicts and re-impose the country’s moratorium on the death penalty, a United Nations spokesperson announced today.

Mr. Ban’s appeal follows Pakistan’s recent decision to lift a six-year moratorium on the use of the death penalty following the recent terrorist attack on a school in Peshawar which claimed the lives of 145 people, the majority of whom were children.

The UN spokesperson’s office noted that in a phone conversation held yesterday with Pakistan’s Prime Minister, Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, the Secretary-General reiterated his condolences to the people and Government of Pakistan and, “while fully recognising the difficult circumstances” the country now found itself in, urged the Government to reinstate the moratorium and bring executions to a halt.

Earlier this week, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, condemned Pakistan’s decision, particularly at a time when the international community is increasingly turning away from the use of the death penalty.

In a news release issued on 22 December, Mr. Zeid warned that “no judiciary, anywhere, can be infallible” and stressed that “no justice system, no matter how robust, can guarantee against wrongful convictions.”

In October, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) released its report – entitled Moving away from the Death Penalty, Arguments, Trends and Perspectives – upholding abolition as a necessity, particularly due to the need to avoid executing those subjected to wrongful convictions; the lack of statistical evidence pointing to the death penalty as a useful deterrent; and the higher rate of execution among those from marginalized communities, including people with mental or intellectual disabilities.

Recently, Equatorial Guinea and the states of Washington, Maryland and Connecticut in the United States, decided to establish a moratorium or suspend executions while last April, El Salvador, Gabon and Poland acceded to the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights – an international agreement aimed at abolition. These countries join the more than 160 other Members States who have already either eliminated capital punishment or do not practice it.


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