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UN chief says death penalty for terrorism often unfair

October 10, 2016 - 1:15 PM

Death sentences for terrorism are often handed down after unfair trials by special courts that disrespect human rights and the rule of law, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said Monday in remarks commemorating World Day Against the Death Penalty.

While 65 countries retain the death penalty for terrorism-related offences, experience shows that executing "terrorists" mostly fuels propaganda for their movements by creating perceived martyrs, Ban said.

"The death penalty is a cruel and inhumane practice. It has no place in the 21st Century," Ban said. "To be legitimate and effective, counter-terror measures, like all security operations, must be anchored in respect for human rights and the rule of law."

He also warned against states that criminalize free expression through vague anti-terror measures.

"Let us be clear: participation in peaceful protests and criticism of a government — whether in private, on the Internet or in the media — are neither crimes nor terrorist acts. The threat or use of the death penalty in such cases is an egregious violation of human rights," Ban said.

The U.N. General Assembly has repeatedly called on countries to restrict the use of the death penalty. However, according to U.N. experts, some countries have instead introduced or expanded the scope of the death penalty for terrorism-related offences - with 15 nations having carried out executions in terror cases over the last 10 years.

In 2015, capital punishment was imposed for terrorism offences in at least seven countries, mostly in the Middle East and North Africa.

"Maintaining the rule of law and respect for human rights — even in the face of terrorism and violent extremism — is an obligation that will boost society's ability to address terrorist threats," Ban said.

News from © The Associated Press, 2016
The Associated Press

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