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Joint statement to commemorate World day Against the Death Penalty

Australia, Norway, Switzerland and the European Union Member States issue the following statement on 10 October to commemorate World day Against the Death Penalty.

As we commemorate World Day Against the Death Penalty, it is comforting to note that 143 countries and territories have abolished the death penalty in law or in practice. It is even more assuring to that 41 of the 54 African States are abolitionist in law or de facto, and all European Union member states have abolished it. However, there is still work to be done to ensure global abolition of the death penalty. 

We consider the death penalty to be deeply flawed and an affront to human dignity. It is degrading and an affront to human society. The death penalty is irrevocable – any miscarriage or failure of justice in the implementation of the death penalty is irreversible. It is unfair as it is used disproportionately against the poor, people with intellectual disabilities and minority groups. Moreover, there is no conclusive evidence that the death penalty deters crime. 

2018 World Day Against the Death Penalty is focused on raising awareness of the inhumane living conditions of people sentenced to death.  The World Coalition reports that many testimonies document the inhuman living conditions that people sentenced to death endure, even though people on death row are entitled to the same basic rights and treatment conditions as other categories of

prisoners, as set out in the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (Nelson Mandela rules).  

We reaffirm our strong and unequivocal opposition to capital punishment in all circumstances and for all people. We continue to call on Botswana to initiate a public debate on its use of the death penalty, as the government of Botswana has already agreed in the Universal Periodic Review of the UN Human Rights Council in January of this year (2018). 

We recognise that a staged, sequenced approach may be most effective, depending on particular country circumstances. We urge all countries that carry out capital punishment to cease executions and establish a moratorium on executions as a first step towards abolition, and to commute remaining death sentences to prison terms. We urge all countries that retain capital punishment as part of their law (whether or not they carry out executions) to remove references to the death penalty from legislation, and sign the Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty.

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