South Africa marks abolition of death penalty


THIS past Friday, October 10 was World Day against Capital Punishment. South African’s remember the victory 19 years ago, on 6 June 1995 when a historic resolution was taken by the Constitutional Court to abolish the death penalty. The court ruled that capital punishment, as provided for under the Criminal Procedure Act, was in conflict with the country’s 1994 constitution.

The continuing application of the death penalty is a “cruel practice” that undermines human dignity, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said as he urged Member States to “reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights” and impose moratoriums on executions.

In a video message issued to an event that took place yesterday at the UN Office in Geneva to mark the annual observance of the World Day against the Death Penalty, the Secretary-General noted that an increasing number of States from all regions of the world had acknowledged the failure of capital punishment as a means to exact justice.

The death penalty, Mr. Ban said, does not deter crimes more than any other punishment and its abolition or moratorium can contribute “to the enhancement and progressive development of human rights.”

“The taking of life is too irreversible for one human being to inflict it on another,” he continued. “We must continue to argue strongly that the death penalty is unjust and incompatible with fundamental human rights.”

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