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UN scribe calls for elimination of death penalty

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THE United Nations (UN) Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, has condemned the death penalty and urged UN Member states to put an end to the horrible practice.

In his address to celebrate the 16th World Day against the Death Penalty, he  said efforts made towards abolishing the death penalty had been stalled by lack of transparency among member nations.

He said that the compromise made by member nations was incompatible with human rights standards.

The UN scribe, stated that hundreds of offenders – often impoverished, women or hailing from minority groups – have been executed without legal representation or transparent criminal proceedings, which could have spared them from the death penalty.

“In some countries, people are sentenced to death in secret trials, without due process, increasing the potential for error or abuse” the UN chief said.

About 170 member states had given formal consent to pull the plug on death penalties since the UN General Assembly’s first call on a moratorium on its use in 2007.

Guterres said he was concerned in particular by the number of juvenile offenders being executed. “Only last week, Zeinab Sekaanvand Lokran of Iran, was executed for killing her husband, when she was 17, despite a trial marred by irregularities”.

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Andrew Gilmour, UN Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights also shares similar views. “There is far too much secrecy, and it’s quite indicative of the fact that though many countries are giving up the practice, those that retain it feel that they have something to hide,” he said.

He said that majority of executions today are carried out in China, Pakistan, Iraq, Iran, and Saudi Arabia.

Amos Abba is a journalist with the International Center for Investigative Reporting, ICIR, who believes that courageous investigative reporting is the key to social justice and accountability in the society.

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