The death penalty is a denial of the most basic human rights; it violates one of the most fundamental principles under widely accepted human rights law—that states must recognize the right to life. The UN General Assembly, the representative body of recognized States, has called for an end to the death penalty and human rights organizations agree that its imposition breaches fundamental enshrined human rights norms.

Human rights are rights inherent to all human beings, regardless of race, sex, nationality, ethnicity, language, religion, or any other status. Human rights include the right to life and liberty, freedom from slavery and torture, freedom of opinion and expression, the right to work and education, etc. and Death Penalty is the clear cut infringement of the aforesaid rights.

The death penalty has been found to breach the prohibition against cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment and there has also been a growing consensus that “death row phenomenon” constitutes a breach in violation of the prohibition against torture under international human rights law. Moreover, the death penalty is often applied in a discriminatory manner, in violation of the principle of non-discrimination.

In many parts of the world, the death penalty is now generally understood to be a human rights violation. This understanding has led to progress in the abolition of the death penalty worldwide; thirty-five years ago, only 16 countries had put an end to capital punishment for all crimes while today the number stands at 104.

Reasons to abolish the Death Penalty:

It is irreversible and mistakes happen. Execution is the ultimate, irrevocable punishment: the risk of executing an innocent person can never be eliminated.

It does not deter crime. Countries who execute commonly cite the death penalty as a way to deter people from committing crime. This claim has been repeatedly discredited, and there is no evidence that the death penalty is any more effective in reducing crime than life imprisonment.

It is often used within skewed justice systems. In many cases recorded by Amnesty International, people were executed after being convicted in grossly unfair trials, on the basis of torture-tainted evidence and with inadequate legal representation

It is discriminatory. The weight of the death penalty is disproportionally carried by those with less advantaged socio-economic backgrounds or belonging to a racial, ethnic or religious minority. This includes having limited access to legal representation, for example, or being at greater disadvantage in their experience of the criminal justice system.

It is used as a political tool. The authorities in some countries, for example Iran and Sudan, use the death penalty to punish political opponents.

We must once and for all demand a worldwide end to the death penalty. This violation of the most basic of rights shames us all, and impacts many more than the individuals on death row. The death penalty diminishes the humanity of everyone it touches; let us reaffirm our commitment to human rights and reassert our common humanity by demanding that our government stop killing our fellow human beings.

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