30 June 2013

Nigeria: UN Asks Nigeria to Abolish Death Penalties

United Nations Secretary-General, Mr. Ban Ki-moon, at the weekend urged Nigeria, Papua New Guinea and other United Nations Member States to move towards the abolition of the death penalty, and called on countries where the procedure is still practiced to increase transparency to allow a serious debate on capital punishment.

Ban Ki-moon also showed his concern that countries such as Nigeria and Papua New Guinea have resumed executions after maintaining a moratorium for many years, urging them to reconsider the use of this inhumane practice."The taking of life is too absolute, too irreversible, for one human being to inflict on another, even when backed by legal process," he decried.

Ban Ki-moon stated this while opening the high-level event and panel discussion at UN Headquarters in New York, on "Moving away from the death penalty - Wrongful Convictions." According to him, "We have a duty to prevent innocent people from paying the ultimate price for miscarriages of justice. The most sensible way is to end the death penalty".

The high-level event moderated by Ivan Imonoviæ, Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, is the second in a series of UN panel discussion on how to move away from the death penalty.Since 2007, the General Assembly has adopted four resolutions calling on States to establish a moratorium on the use of the death penalty with a view to its abolition.

Today, about 150 of the UN's 193 Member States have either abolished the death penalty or no longer practice it. The event was organised by the Office for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and featured a viewing of film clip of West Memphis, the critically acclaimed 2012 documentary that follows the events of the so-called "West Memphis Three," a case in which three teenagers -- Jessie Misskelley, Damien Echols, and Jason Baldwin were arrested for the murders of three 8-year old children in 1993.

The three young men were subsequently convicted of murder and remained in prison for more than 18 years, before their release in 2011 with the introduction of new DNA evidence. One of those wrongfully convicted, Mr Echols, who was sentenced to death, was among the experts on the panel.

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