New York – United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki moon Monday called the death penalty a cruel and inhumane practice, one that 65 countries globally retain for terrorism related offenses, which is the focus of this year’s World Day against the Death Penalty.
“It has no place in the 21st century,” the secretary general stressed in his message for the Day, commemorated annually on Oct. 10.
“To be legitimate and effective, counter terror measures, like all security operations, must be anchored in respect for human rights and the rule of law,” he added. Yet death sentences for terrorism are often handed down after unfair and speedy trials by military or special courts.
In his message, the UN chief noted that confessions were often obtained under duress or in other ways in which the right to appeal is not respected.
Some States even sought to criminalize the legitimate exercise of fundamental freedoms by including vague definitions in counter terrorism legislation.
“Let us be clear: participation in peaceful protests and criticism of a government, whether in private, on the Internet, or in the media, are neither crimes nor terrorist acts,” Ban underscored. “The threat or use of the death penalty in such cases is an egregious violation of human rights, he added.
Some may argue that capital punishment would diminish terrorism, he went on to say, but, emphasized: “This is not true. Experience has shown that putting terrorists to death serves as propaganda for their movements by creating perceived martyrs and making their macabre recruiting campaigns more effective.”
He urged everyone to continue working to abolish the death penalty in all circumstances and places.
“Let our actions always be guided by the moral compass of human rights’ the most effective route to a safer, more just and secure world,” Ban added.
In Geneva, a group of UN human rights experts meanwhile has reminded Governments around the world that capital punishment is an ineffective deterrent for terrorism and most times an unlawful one.