“The death penalty has no place in the 21st century,” said UN chief

UNITED NATIONS: The death penalty does little to deter crimes or serve victims, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Tuesday, calling on all countries, which have not forbidden the extreme practice, to urgently stop executions.

“The death penalty has no place in the 21st century,” Guterres said while speaking alongside Andrew Gilmour, Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, at an event at the UN Headquarters, in New York.

Welcoming that some 170 states around the world have either abolished the death penalty and put a moratorium on its use “ most recently, Gambia and Madagascar “ and that executions in 2016 were down 37 percent compared in 2015, the UN chief, however, added that at present just four countries accounted for 87 percent of all recorded executions.

Responding to a question at the regular noon briefing, the secretary-general’s spokesman, Stephane Dujarric said the four countries were: Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and China.

The UN chief also expressed concern that the countries that continued executions were also failing to meet their international obligations, particularly in relation to transparency and compliance with international human rights standards.

“Some governments conceal executions and enforce an elaborate system of secrecy to hide who is on death row, and why,” Guterres said, underscoring that lack of transparency showed a lack of respect for the human rights of those sentenced to death and to their families, as well as damaging administration of justice more generally.

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