Launch of the ICDP publication “How States abolish the death penalty”

Dear Commissioners, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure for me to host this evening’s reception in honour of the International Commission against the Death Penalty, and to take part in the launch of the publication on “How States abolish the death penalty”.

Norway gives high priority to the fight against the death penalty, and we oppose the death penalty in all circumstances as a matter of principle.

We are therefore honoured to support and assist the ICDP in our current role as president of the ICDP cross-regional support group, and grateful that the Commission chose to hold its 7th meeting in Oslo, which is taking place today and tomorrow.

There are many reasons why we need to put an end to the death penalty. Let me point to a few:

  1. Capital punishment is cruel and a violation of human dignity.
    Execution completely negates the principle of rehabilitation and is incompatible with the principle of humane treatment.
  2. Killing sanctioned by the state dehumanises society.
    Why? Because a state that endorses the death penalty sends the message that killing is an acceptable way of solving problems.
  3. There is no conclusive evidence that the death penalty is an effective deterrent
    - Nor does it bring justice to the victims of violent crimes. Figures from countries that have abolished the death penalty confirm that doing so does not lead to an increase in crime.
  4. Capital punishment is irrevocable.

All judicial systems make mistakes, and as long as the death penalty persists, innocent people will be executed.

Any execution resulting from a miscarriage of justice is an irreparable and unacceptable loss of human life.

For me the choice whether to abolish or retain the death penalty is in fact a choice about the kind of society we want to live in and the values we want to uphold.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The coalition of States taking a clear stand against the Death Penalty has been steadily growing over the last few years.

A great majority of UN Member States have abolished the death penalty or have introduced a moratorium, either in law or in practice.

In December last year the UN General Assembly was able to secure record support for the moratorium resolution (111 votes in favour), reflecting the worldwide trend towards abolition.

The resolution drew new support from Central African Republic, Chad, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, South Sudan and Tunisia. Papua New Guinea and Indonesia moved from a negative vote to abstention.

This broad trend towards abolition is encouraging. Regrettably however, there has been a series of bad news lately:

Executions are continuing to take place in a number of countries at an alarming rate, including in the top five executioners United States, China, Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia.

In addition, executions have been resumed in countries such as Gambia, Indonesia, India and Kuwait, countries that had previously observed a de-facto moratorium for several years, and reminding us that a moratorium is not enough.

This reminds us of the importance of our campaign, and the need to work even harder to mobilize against the Death Penalty in the years to come.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The more familiar people are with the facts surrounding the death penalty, the more favourable they are to its abolition. Public awareness-raising must therefore be an integral part of our strategy.

We also know that governments - and individual politicians - need to take the lead in national debates on issues of this nature. Most countries that have abolished the death penalty have done so despite public opposition, and yet people in those countries have quickly come to accept this reform.

Finally, we know that civil society has a key role to play in influencing governments to take the right path.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

This leads me to reminding you all of the upcoming World Congress against the Death Penalty in Madrid on 12-15 June. Norway is proud to be one of the main partners and sponsors of the Congress.

All states are invited to participate, as well as civil society and intergovernmental organisations.

I believe that the World Congress is a crucial opportunity to mobilize public support. I hope to see you all there.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We are at a crucial point in the long battle against the death penalty worldwide.

There are countries that have chosen to abolish death penalty in all geographical regions, both rich and poor countries, of all cultures, all values, of all traditions and of all religions.

We must make sure that countries choose to be part of this international movement away from the death penalty.

I believe that the work of the Commission in general and this publication in particular will be an important contribution to this end.

Thank you.

*****

Statement by the International Commission against the Death Penalty: 7th meeting in Oslo

 

 

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