High-level panel discussion on the question of the death penalty (A/HRC/36/27)
5. In his opening remarks, the Minister of State for European Affairs of France noted that the death penalty was being applied in over 20 countries and that there had been a record number of executions over the previous two years, following breaks in moratoriums and calls for the reintroduction of the death penalty. Some were trying to justify the reintroduction of capital punishment by invoking security concerns, such as terrorism or drug trafficking, despite the fact that the death penalty had no deterrent effect and was not a guarantee of security; moreover, renouncing capital punishment did not preclude a firm response to terrorism. The Minister concurred with the High Commissioner in highlighting that the use of the death penalty led to violations of the human rights of those convicted and of their relatives, and added that this had been mentioned in the reports of the SecretaryGeneral and affirmed by the Human Rights Council. The death penalty was inhuman, unjust and ineffective. Hopefully, the panel discussion would encourage the Human Rights Council to take action on the subject. Abolishing the death penalty required the participation of many actors.
14. That was all the more urgent given that efforts had recently been made to reintroduce the death penalty. In that regard, once a State had ratified the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty, no reservation was possible, nor was the reintroduction of the death penalty. All States, in particular those that had ratified the Covenant, were called upon to adopt a strong position in favour of abolition. In its draft general comment No. 36, on article 6 of the Covenant, the Human Rights Committee should emphasize that States parties to the Covenant must not increase the number of crimes for which the death penalty could be imposed. All States were urged to reconsider the types of offences for which the death penalty was used and always apply the death penalty with extreme care and safeguards, and only for the most serious crimes. The death penalty should not be used to punish those guilty of drug offences, as capital punishment did not address the root causes of those offences and only offered a short-term solution. Moreover, it had been observed that the death penalty was often sought, in relation to drug offences, for political opponents and individuals from poor and marginalized populations.
33. Several representatives emphasized that States that retained the death penalty must ensure compliance with international fair trial standards and the full protections set out in international human rights instruments, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the safeguards guaranteeing protection of the rights of those facing the death penalty (Economic and Social Council resolution 1984/50). In that regard, some representatives of States that retain the death penalty agreed that rights and safeguards should be respected. Many representatives expressed concern, however, about the fact that universal safeguards were not always implemented, in particular with regard to the following: the use of the mandatory death penalty; the secret application of the death penalty; the failure to prevent miscarriages of justice; executions following unsafe convictions and unfair trials; public executions and the use of unregulated substances in lethal injections; the use of the death penalty for crimes that are not “most serious crimes” under international human rights law, such as drugrelated offences; and the use of the death penalty against persons with disabilities and other groups at particular risk.(…)