African Press International (API)

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The fight against the death penalty gains ground

Posted by African Press International on December 1, 2012

Never before have so many UN member states supported the fight against the death penalty. “This is a very welcome development,” said Minister of Foreign Affairs Espen Barth Eide.

The UN General Assembly Monday called on all member states to establish a moratorium on executions, as a step towards abolishing the death penalty. Norway, in cooperation with a group of countries from all parts of the world, led the initiative, which was supported by 110 countries. This is the fourth time a resolution calling for a moratorium on the use of the death penalty has been approved, and each time it has gained increased support. This shows that there is a global trend towards abolition of the death penalty.

A total of 150 of the UN’s 193 member states now refrain from using the death penalty. We know for certain that 20 countries carried out executions in 2011.

“There are still a large number of cases involving use of the death penalty that go unreported. The text that was adopted today also calls on states to show greater transparency with regard to their use of the death penalty. In the long-term, this could foster an open debate based on facts,” said Mr Eide.

The fight against the death penalty is one of the priority areas of Norway’s human rights policy.

“Norway opposes the death penalty in all circumstances as a matter of principle, but ultimately it is up to each individual country to abolish the death penalty. Many countries need to take a long-term perspective, and in several cases a step-by-step approach is required,” Mr Eide said.

Norway urges countries that continue to use the death penalty to abolish the practice or limit its use, and calls for states to comply with international minimum standards.

Thirty-nine countries voted against the resolution in the UN General Assembly. Thirty-six abstained.

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