UN Human Rights body adopts resolution condemning death penalty
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Brian Cowen T.D., today welcomed the adoption by the UN Commission on Human Rights of a resolution against the death penalty.
The resolution was an EU initiative, tabled by Ireland in our role as Presidency of the Union. The resolution calls on States which maintain capital punishment to abolish the death penalty completely and, in the meantime, to establish a moratorium on executions.
The resolution was adopted with a record number of member States of the Commission on Human Rights voting in favour of it.
Minister Cowen said, “the successful adoption of the resolution, and the margin of victory, is a demonstration of the effectiveness of the EU’s policy of opposition to the death penalty in all circumstances. It is also a sign of the growing trend towards the international abolition of the death penalty.”
Minister Cowen took the opportunity to reaffirm Ireland’s and the EU’s policy in regard to the death penalty.
“Ireland along with our EU partners considers that the abolition of the death penalty contributes to the enhancement of human dignity and the progressive development of human rights. This position is rooted in our belief in the inherent dignity of all human beings and the inviolability of the human person. The European Union favours the universal abolition of capital punishment, and we work towards this goal in our relations with third countries. By tabling this Resolution before the Commission on Human Rights, we are bringing this issue to the attention of the widest possible audience.”
Minister Cowen noted that the successful adoption of the resolution on the death penalty was one of the human rights priorities identified for the Irish Presidency at the UN Commission on Human Rights.
Note for Editors:
The UN Commission on Human Rights is the main UN forum for substantive discussion of human rights issues. The 53 member Commission on Human Rights (CHR) meets annually in Geneva for six weeks in March/April (2004 session runs from 15 March – 23 April). Ireland was elected in April 2002 to be a member of the Commission for a three year term from 1 January 2003. As Presidency of the European Union, Ireland speaks for and represents the Union at the Commission. The Commission deliberates, and passes resolutions, on the full range of human rights concerns, including country situations and thematic issues.
The Resolution calls on States which maintain capital punishment to move to abolition. The Resolution also urges those States which maintain capital punishment to progressively restrict the number of offences for which the death penalty may be imposed; to establish a moratorium on executions; and to make public information on the imposition of the death penalty and the scheduling of executions. The Resolution also urges States that maintain the death penalty to impose it only following a fair and final judgement by an independent and impartial competent court.
The Resolution urges States that maintain the death penalty not to impose it for crimes committed by persons below 18 years of age, and to exclude from capital punishment pregnant women and mothers with dependent children. Those States are also urged not to impose the death penalty for any but the most serious crimes and to ensure that all proceedings related to capital offences conform to the minimal procedural guarantees contained in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. States still maintaining the death penalty are further urged to observe the safeguards guaranteeing protection of the rights of those facing the death penalty, and to comply fully with their international obligations.