New Delhi: The United Nations, General Assembly has passed a resolution calling for a moratorium on the death penalty. Eighty-seven countries jointly introduced the resolution.
The resolution passed with a vote of 104 in favour versus 54 against with 29 abstentions. The resolution calls for "a moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty". However, the resolution remains non-binding and stops short of an outright demand for the abolition of the death penalty.
Several countries opposed the resolution, protesting that it undermined their sovereignty. Aqeelah Akbar, the UN representative from Antigua and Barbuda said, "We respect the right of other states to abolish the death penalty, but in turn, they should respect our sovereign right to choose the judicial, political, economic and social systems which pertain in our societies."
The UN representative from Barbados said, "Capital punishment remains legal under international law, and Barbados wishes to exercise its sovereign right to use it as a deterrent to the most serious crimes."
Claude Heller, the Permanent Representative of Mexico to the United Nations voiced his support for the measure. Heller said, "The purpose of this resolution is not to interfere in or impose our views on others. Our intention is to promote and to strengthen the growing trend towards the elimination of the death penalty."
Eighty-seven countries, including the 27 European Union states, more than a dozen Latin American countries and eight African states jointly introduced the resolution, though opponents singled out the EU as the driving force.
Prior to vote, an emotional debate reverberated the chamber with the opponents arguing that the death penalty is illegal under the international human rights law and that it is the sovereign right of every country to determine its judicial structure and methods.
With Agency inputs