The International Commission against the Death Penalty (ICDP) was invited by the United Nations to participate in a panel discussion on “Moving away from the death penalty – Lessons from national experiences “.
The event, to which all UN Member States were invited, took take place at UN headquarters in New York on 3rd July 2012. Mr Federico Mayor, President of the ICDP, represented the ICDP at the meeting.
The event, organized by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, was an opportunity to inform Member States about the death penalty in advance of the UN General Assembly’s debate on a moratorium on the use of the death penalty later this year.
The meeting was opened by the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. In his opening remarks he called on Member States which use the death penalty to abolish the practice, stressing that the right to life lies at the heart of international human rights law.
In his address he also spoke about juvenile offenders and the fact that 32 states retain the death penalty for drug offences, and stated that the UN will not establish or directly participate in any tribunal that allows for capital punishment. He concluded by saying that “The call by the General Assembly for a global moratorium is a crucial stepping stone in the natural progression towards a full worldwide abolition of the death penalty.”
The event was divided in two sessions: first one for Member States and second one for NGOs.
Mr Mayor was asked to participate in the first panel among delegates from Guatemala (Blanca Aida Stalling Davila, Director-General of El Instituto de la Defensa Publica Penal of Guatemala) and Burundi (Mr. Valentin Bagorikunda, Prosecutor-General of the Republic of Burundi) as well as the Co- Director of the NGO “Innocence project” in the USA Mr Barry Scheck.
The panel was chaired by the Assistant Secretary-General Ivan Šimonović. Mr Mayor’s intervention included a global perspective on capital punishment with examples of countries that have taken steps to move towards the abolition of the death penalty. He highlighted in particular the role of the IGOs and NGOs in this process. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Madame Pillay closed the session.
The second panel was chaired by the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial executions Mr Heyns with panel participants from Japan, (Ms Maiko Tagusari, Centre for Prisoners’ Rights) Trinidad and Tobago (Mr Douglas Mendes, Justice of the Belize Court of Appeal), Zimbabwe (Mr Cousin Zilala, Amnesty International), and first DNA exoneree in the USA Mr. Bloodsworth.
For further information on the event and the debate, please visit:
The discussions of the panel were included in the publication entitled “Moving away from the death penalty. Lessons from national experiences” by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Please visit the publication here.