Human Rights Council – 52nd Session High Level Panel on the Death Penalty

  • Statement

delivered on behalf of Canada, Australia, New Zealand

Thank you, High Commissioner

It is an honour to deliver this statement on behalf of Canada, New Zealand and my own country, Australia.  

We strongly oppose the death penalty – in all circumstances, for all people – and are committed to pursuing global abolition.

The death penalty is a brutal and degrading punishment. It is irrevocable, and disproportionately affects people living in poverty, people with intellectual disabilities, people living with drug or mental health problems, Indigenous Peoples, minorities and people with diverse sexual orientations and gender identities.

While we oppose the death penalty in all circumstances, we particularly condemn its use for crimes which do not meet the threshold of “most serious” crimes under the ICCPR. The death penalty must never be imposed for consensual same sex relations, drug offences, adultery, witchcraft, apostasy, or blasphemy.

We call on states that retain the death penalty to ensure that people facing a death sentence have adequate assistance to legal counsel, and to uphold their rights to a fair trial and guarantees of due process under Article 14 of the ICCPR.

We urge adherence to the UN 'Safeguards guaranteeing protection of the rights of those facing the death penalty', which articulate minimum standards to apply in countries that retain the death penalty.

Our countries will continue to work actively to maintain global momentum towards the abolition of the death penalty.

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