NEW VOICES: UN Secretary General Urges Members to Abolish the Death Penalty

At a recent event sponsored by the High Commissioner for Human Rights, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon encouraged member nations to work towards ending capital punishment. Mr. Ban particularly focused on the risk of wrongful executions, saying, “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 event—“Moving away from the death penalty—Wrongful Convictions”—featured the film West of Memphis, a documentary about three Arkansas teenagers who were convicted of a brutal crime they almost certainly did not commit. The three were freed in 2011. Damien Echols, who had been sentenced to death for the crime, was among the speakers at the event. Since 2007, the UN General Assembly has passed four resolutions calling for a moratorium on executions, and six countries have abolished the death penalty in that time. About 150 UN member countries are now abolitionist by law or in practice.

(Newsroom America, “Countries Urged to Abolish the Death Penalty,” July 1, 2013.) See International and New Voices.