Home » Side event: The death penalty for drug-related offences: Challenges to restrict its use and pathways towards abolition

Side event: The death penalty for drug-related offences: Challenges to restrict its use and pathways towards abolition

Side event organised by Harm Reduction International with the support of Australia, Belgium, Canada, Costa Rica, Czechia, Mongolia, Mexico, New Zealand, Paraguay, Portugal, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, the European Union, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the World Health Organization, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, the United Nations Development Programme, Amnesty International and the Open Society Foundations.

Zaved Mahmood, OHCHR. Good morning, thank you very much for joining us to this event on the use of the death penalty for drug related offenses. I would like to first thank Harm Reduction International for organizing this event with the support of a long list of co-sponsors. So I’m not going to name everyone but thank you very much for your support. This is the second event from a human rights program we are organising at the CND 67 session of the CND, organised within the framework of the UN Human Rights report on drug policy which was published last year.

Let me with few words on the issue of the death penalty. Just today we are going to hear from our colleague Ajeng with regard to their new report on the death penalty for drug offices which has just been launched today. She will give us some updates on the global situation with regard to death penalty. But I would like to refer to our report in which we articulated that death penalty in recent time the use of the death penalty has increased for drug-related offenses. Drug offenses can never serve as the basis for the imposition of the death penalty. A state that has not abolished the death penalty yet may impose it only for the most serious crimes. The United Nations Human Rights Committee has referred to the most serious crimes as crimes of extreme gravity involving intentional killing. I’m happy that today we have one of the members from the Committee who will be speaking, I will introduce later on.

There is no evidence that the death penalty deters drug related crimes more than other method of punishment or that it affects crime reduction. Imposing the death penalty for drug related offences can have a disproportionate impact on the marginalized population: foreign nationals, minorities and women. In some situations it has been it has been linked to a lack of transparency, breaches of the right to a fair trial and it has subjected individuals to ill treatment and torture while on death row. I would like to mention one thing you’ll see in the Harm reduction International report: that 34 countries still continue to use death penalty in their law books. Some of them regularly use death penalty, some of them occasionally, and some countries have it in the book but they have not used the death penalty for a long time. But the mere existence of the death penalty in law books creates stigma in society, particularly against people who use drugs and other communities. It creates some sort of fear in the society and that needs to be addressed. Instead states should refrain from using it for drug related offences, consider abolishing it for such offenses and commute death sentences that have already been handed out. That is our key recommendation in the report. I have copies of the reports our report’s summary. If you would like to take copy, please at the end of the meeting. With that note I would like to invite the Deputy ambassador from Ghana to make his introductory remarks. I would also like to mention one thing with regard to Ghana. Ghana was the last country in the world which abolished the death penalty last year. Thank you Ambassador, over to you.

[Ambassador Philbert I.K.A. Johnson, Ghana]. Thank you very much chair for the kind words said about Ghana. We really appreciate it. Chair, excellences, distinguished participants, ladies and gentlemen, I have the great honour to give the opening remarks for this important session and important topic at the CND. Permit me to express my appreciation to the organisers for the invitation I bring you warm greetings and best wishes for this event from Ambassador Johnson, chair of the CND, who could not join us this morning due to some present issues which require his urgent attention. Last year, Ghana’s Parliament voted to abolish the death penalty for all offenses, a move that was applauded by many human rights activists globally as a great advancement of the human rights record of Ghana. Abolishing the death penalty shows that we are determined as a society not to be inhuman uncivil, closed, retrogressive and dark, and reflects our common belief that the sanctity of life is invulnerable. I believe that it is with a sense of responsibility and a commitment to justice, as we gather here today to address a matter of great significance: the death penalty for drug related offenses. Ghana recognizes the gravity of this issue and the complexities surrounding it. As we delve into the challenges inherent in its application and explore pathway towards its abolition we do so with a firm belief in upholding human rights, promoting fairness, and advancing the cause of Justice. The use of the death penalty for drug related offenses presents a myriad of challenges, both legal and ethical. It is a practice that has spared considerable debate on its effectiveness as a deterrent, its compatibility with international human rights standards, and its potential for wrongful convictions. Moreover, its application often intersects with other broader issues such as socioeconomic disparities, access to justice and systemic inequalities. Under international human rights law, capital punishment is often is only permitted for most serious crimes. UN Human Rights bodies have made clear that this should only be applied to crimes of extreme gravity involving intentional killing and that this does not include drug trafficking. And of course there’s now a growing majority of countries voting regularly for a moratorium on the death penalty in the UN General Assembly and the Human Rights Council. As we confront these challenges, we must approach the issue with a critical eye and a commitment to finding effective solutions. This requires a comprehensive examination of the underlying factors driving drug offenses, including the socioeconomic conditions that may contribute to involvement in drug related activities, as well as the effectiveness of alternative sentencing measures in addressing the root causes of drug related crimes. Furthermore, it is essential to engage in meaningful dialogue with stakeholders at all levels including civil Society organisations, legal experts and international partners to foster a deeper understanding of the complexities surrounding this issue and to identify pragmatic pathway towards abolition. Excellencies, speakers, ladies and gentlemen, the government of Ghana is committed to promoting a justice system that is fair, transparent and in line with international human rights standards. Hence I would encourage all of us here today to be open-minded and have an honest conversation to finding solutions for this issue presented to us at the CND. In closing, it is my fervent hope that these discussions will help us have an open and honest evidence-based conversations about this big issue, especially around drugs. I thank you chair and thank you ladies and gentlemen for your kind attention.

Zaved. Thank you Ambassador for your remarks and indeed death penalty is an affront to right to life and other human rights. With that note, I would like to move to our panel. We have distinguish panellists here. I will introduce now first aim Ajeng, she’s human rights lead at Harm Reduction International. I would like to also highlight that Harm Reduction International since 2007 is recording and producing a report on the death penalty for drug related offences. We have another organisation also co-sponsoring this event: Amnesty International. Amnesty International on a yearly basis produce a report on the global situation with regard to death penalty for all crimes, but it is really great that Harm Reduction International is focusing on death penalty for drug related offences.

Ajeng Larasati, Harm Reduction International, Indonesia. Good morning everyone thank you so much for being here despite the side event being at 8:00 am. My name is Ajeng and today I will be presenting the data and trends on the application of the death penalty for drug offences from our latest Global Overview 2023. As Zaved mentioned, we have been monitoring the use of the death penalty for drug offenses worldwide since 2007 and this report is actually our 13th on the subject and it continues our work to provide regular updates on legislative policy, as well as practical developments related to the use of capital punishment for drug offenses, a practice which is a clear violation of international standards. Allow me to start with good news from the year from 2023. 2023 started with 35 countries retained the death penalty for drug offenses but closed with one less. Pakistan took the landmark decision when the country removed death as possible punishment for drug offenses and effectively became the first country to abolish the death penalty for drug offenses in order over a decade in Asia. The year also saw a reduction in the number of countries applying mandatory death sentences for drug offences with Malaysia reform, which our colleague Edmund will provide a deeper analysis on the reform later.

So moving on to the bad news: a record high number of drug related execution is documented in 2023 and you can see it from the screened above. At least 467 people were executed for drug offenses last year, and this represents a 44 increase from 2022. At least 59 of them belong to ethnic minority groups, 13 individuals were foreign Nationals, and six were women. As last year and years before, information gaps persist there could have been more executions for drug offences took place last year but lack of transparency prevents us from getting the complete picture of the situation. Drug offenses were responsible for roughly 42% of all executions confirmed globally throughout 2023. This means almost one in every two executions are for drug related offenses, and this is the highest recorded figure since 2016. As in previous years, unofficial reports and sources as well as past practice strongly suggest that executions for drug offenses were conducted in China, North Korea and Vietnam. You can see on the screen there are four other countries that carried out execution for drug offenses in 2023. This is Iran, Saudi Arabia, Singapore and Kuwait. Among those confirmed to have been executed in China are a South Korean and two Filipino Nationals despite pleading for clemency by their respective governments. Nevertheless, no accurate figures can be confirmed due to opacity and censorship on the part of State authorities. As you can see 98% of known drug related executions took place in Iran. This indicates a 79 increase from 2022 and actually the highest number we recorded from Iran since 2015. Drug executions accounted for at least 55% of total executions in the country, and this means drug control drives imposition of capital punishment by one of the world’s stop executioners. With regards to death sentences HRI’s monitoring indicates that courts in at least 16 countries sentence individuals to death for violations of drug control legislation. Although official and reliable information on sentences is even more scarce than on executions, these figures are to be understood as a partial representations of the phenomenon. You can see from the screen which are which are the 16 countries that sentence people for that for drug offences. Confirmed sentences for drug offenses increased by more than 20% from 2022. A minimum of 3 375 people were sentenced to death for drug offenses of which at least 31 were foreign Nationals and 15 were women. A major spike in drug rated death sentences was observed in some countries such as Iran, Sri Lanka, Palestine and Yemen. On the other hand, a decrease in death sentences was recorded in some countries though none of them profile official figures. The most prominent one is Malaysia which again Edman will probably touch on that later. And lastly available figures suggest that drug control is the key driver of the use of the death penalty in many retentionist countries. For example 94% of known death sentences imposed in Indonesia, my country, were for drug offenses. And this number rises to 100 in United Arab Emirates.

Punitive drug control also has a significant impact on the death row population in several countries and you can see on the screen, these are the percentage of death row for drug offenses against total people on death row. Drug offenses accounted for 52% of people on death row in Indonesia, about 55% % in Malaysia, 61% in Thailand, and 95% in Singapore.

Other key findings from the year. 2023 saw a number of commutations and pardons in favour of individual sentenced to death for drug offences in addition to those in Malaysia pursuant to the legal reform. In Indonesia, our president granted clemency to Mary Utami who’s been on death row for more than 20 years. We also recorded a commutation in Bahrain and in Kuwait, as well as in United Arab Emirates. We also saw a strong stance against the imposition of capital punishment for drug offenses in 2023 by international actors and this includes among others OHCHR report launched last year which Zaved mentioned earlier today. However the UN body responsible for drug matters unfortunately continues to remain silent and hopefully they can break the silent from now on.

I want to close by sharing an event that could be an opportunity for us to continue the work to abolish the death penalty for drug offenses, which is the International Harm Reduction Conference, which will be held in Colombia next year. In previous conferences we invited representative from Malaysia to share updates on the reform they undertook, and this time in Bogota although no Latin American countries retain death penalty for drug offences, the past few years has seen Latin American countries being a strong advocate for abolition of the death penalty for drug offenses which is a very good move from the countries in Latin America, and hopefully more countries are joining them in the fight against the use of the death penalty for drug offenses. I’ll end it there, thank you so much.

Zaved. Thank you very much for the presentation of the report and findings. We can see the mixed picture: some positive development as well as continuation of execution or sentencing people to death for drug related offences in many countries. But one thing you mention I would like to highlight that is transparency. Because this all these figures which has been provided are not complete figures because in many countries, we do not have information because lack of transparency or as you mention, States consider the death penalty as a state secret so obviously it doesn’t provide full picture to us. One thing also I would like to remind everyone these are on not only the figure. Every figure has behind it an individual, a family or maybe whole society. So we need to also think when we are looking at those figures that behind them there is humanity as well. With that note I would like to move to our next speaker Edmund Bom. He’s the head of chamber of one leading law chamber in Malaysia AmerBon advocates and he was also former member or representative of Malaysia to the Asean inter-govermental Commission on human rights.

Edmund Bon, AmerBON, Malaysia. Thank you chair, good morning delegates, excellencies, thank you for inviting me to speak today. I have no PowerPoint slide, I have no data to share except to speak about what I’ve been asked to present: which is about Malaysia’s pathway towards abolishing the mandatory nature of the death penalty that has recently been the abolishment has been enforced since 2023. I think the at this type of conference where – this is the first time I’m joining this conference the United Nations Commission on Narcotics Drugs, it’s very eye opening – I understand a lot of the delegates and the discussions centre around law enforcement and I think I’ve been invited to try and make the link between how human rights are respected, or should be respected, in terms of law enforcement specifically in relation to drug offences.

So in Malaysia have seen some significant progress and it’s been over a I would say a relatively short period of time, six to about eight years since the last known execution in Malaysia. And since then there has been a moratorium in 2016. The Campaign to abolish the death penalty completely has been largely headed by the bar Council of Malaysia. The Independent Lawyers Association (all of us need to be a member of to become a lawyer in Malaysia) start we started a campaign many years ago working with different NGOs like Amnesty and individual lawyers to remove the death penalty from our statute books. Of course the advocacy has been to abolish it completely and especially in cases of drug trafficking. In Malaysia we had the mandatory death penalty for drug trafficking, and as part of the campaign there were many high-profile cases which were highlighted and which you would probably have read regarding drug trafficking and how the punishment of mandatory death penalty was deemed to be unfair and unjust because you would apply the death penalty across the board for all types of drug trafficking cases. Then in 2017, Malaysia introduced amendments to the dangerous drugs act which allowed a discretion to the public prosecutor to reduce the sentence from death penalty to merely imprisonment. And then we had a political change because the government changed from the ruling Barisan national government to Pakatan Harapan government, the opposition. Then 2018 was the start or at least an active move by the government to consider the abolishment of the death penalty completely. I think that was the statements from the government and it was led by the late Li Wong who passed on unfortunately but he had let this push for the government, continuing the moratorium of executions first, and then with cabinet bringing a new level of transparency in the figures and sharing of information as to who was on death row. Although not a highly systematic way but in a very ad hoc way, this was a good sign about how the government was a bit more open than other governments in talking about the challenges in dealing with the problem and to try and create a greater understanding of who was on death role for what crimes and for analysis of how legal aid would impact a lot of these people, as well as looking at their social economic backgrounds.

So for drug trafficking cases you would be seeing that a lot of the accused persons and who were on death row came from poor vulnerable groups, not only Malaysians but foreigners as well. Many of them were mules, doing it intentionally or unintentionally as drug couriers and yet they would be sentenced to the mandatory death penalty. I think what was very important is that Malaysian government took the strategy of outsourcing the expertise, and then that provided a buffer to the government as a strategy, because it was allowed to say, look I’ve appointed a group of experts. And this happened in 2019, the government set up a special committee to review all offences relating to the death penalty and that of course included drug trafficking. I was on the committee which was led by the former Chief Justice Hon Richard Malanum, with a whole group of experts from prisons, from the prosecution side. We did road shows as well as consultations in the whole country and we were studying what the report called ‘alternatives to the mandatory death penalty’. It allowed us for the first time to get into the nitty-gritty of law enforcement as well as into the personalities of the accused persons, as well as the families that were affected because we also have death penalty for kidnapping for murder. This nationwide consultation was very enriching. It was a very comprehensive report. We had comments from agencies all over, there were of course objections, but where we dealt with those objections. Unfortunately much as we I would like it, I’ve been asking the government to try and declassify the report, I cannot speak very much about the report, because it’s still an official secret for one reason another. But that report had very comprehensive recommendations, not only to abolish first the mandatory death penalty which we have now done in 2023, but recommendations in the journey towards abolishing death penalty completely in the near future. Those recommendations included further studies, consultations, included more on the ground work with UN agencies, including UNODC. In the meantime, and this is to respond to Ajeng’s intervention, we had actually also spoken about a sentencing council. The sentencing council for judges are actually very important because while the death penalty is still in place in Malaysia, and we see some figures of where the high court still imposes a death penalty based on judicial discretion – of course it’s less but still happening – I think we require more judicial guidelines as to what type of sentences in the rarest of rare cases should the death penalty be imposed.

So the move towards removing mandatory death penalty eventually led to laws now being enforced in 2023 by Parliament. This was really due to the leadership of the current government which engage many stakeholders over a short period of time to ensure the reforms are in place. The removal of the mandatory death penalty now is coupled with our recommendation for resentencing, so we have about thousand over prisoners who have been sentenced to the death to the death penalty who are now going to have their cases reviewed by the highest court, the federal court, to be resentenced. The good news is, for all drug trafficking cases where the review has been happening, the attorney general public prosecutor has not been objecting to the reduction of the sentences in respect of drug trafficking cases. I think is a very positive step. Of course the public prosecutor is still objecting to the use of the death penalty in other cases like murder or in more serious offenses, but for drug trafficking what I understand from my colleagues is that the public prosecutor has not been objecting to that. I think the other point that is important about this whole process where the government outsourced it to a group of experts is that not only the bill had abolished the mandatory death penalty, but they had completely removed death penalty as punishment for seven offences. So as part of the process, while we were looking at the mandatory death penalty not only has the mandatory nature been taken away, but death penalty completely has been removed. We also recommended the removal of life imprisonment as well, so there’s no no imprisonment for natural life, it’s a fixed term that is set and then of course the process for resentencing. So a lot of this progress I think is a combination of a lot of different factors. There’s still much work to do in the journey towards abolishing the death penalty. I want to acknowledge as well two days ago, at this conference my colleague from the Ministry of Home Affairs who represented us made very positive and progressive statements about how we have moved towards removing the mandatory death penalty and how we are also looking at decriminalising to deal with issues such as overcrowding in prisons and overburdening of the judicial system.

So in essence I just wanted to end there by saying that the data shows how the death penalty does not deter crime, death penalty targets the vulnerable. It’s all there and has been shown in Malaysia and if there’s enough political will, enough pressure, enough cooperation and consultation with stakeholders, we can move towards this journey in removing the death penalty completely for all offenses thank you.

Zaved. Thank you Edmund for your remarks and it’s really important to understand the process, how a country is moving forward to abolish the mandatory death penalty and some cases, also abolishing to death penalty for all crimes. This was one of the key role played by the committee which was established and the report, and I’m sure it is valuable for everyone in this regard. I would also like to recognise that Ghana also conducted this kind of review by the Constitutional Commission and a report was published and provided to the public as well as to the government and that led to the reform last year. So I think it is really critical that this report is published and that could also help other countries as well that to see how one particular country is moving forward and it could be lesson learned for others as well. So we hope that government of Malaysia will declassify and publish that report. With that note I would like to move to our next speaker, Helene Tigroudja. She’s joining us online and I mentioned the Human Rights Committee before. The UN Human Rights Committee monitors the implementation of one of the international human rights treaties, that is International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and Helen is part of that Committee which monitor this treaty. Before I hand over to Helene, I would like to acknowledge that participants who are participating online, I can see the number now 21, a really good number at 8:00 in the morning joining from different parts of the world, welcome to all of you who are joining on online.

Helene Tigroudja, Member, UN Human Rights Committee. Thank you for inviting me as a member of the Human Rights Committee, and especially to share the experience of the Human Rights Committee when dealing with the death penalty and drug offences. My remarks are really similar to what was said by Harm Reduction International, we have the same kind of picture or experience also positive news but also concerns when dealing with drug offences. I was really pleased to hear was what was said by the opening remarks, Ghana has really a leading role to play so I was really happy to hear that the what was said at the very beginning of our discussion. So maybe five or six bullet points. So first it was reminded at the beginning of this panel that article 6 of the international Covenant on Civil and Political Rights dealing with the right to life does not in itself prohibit death penalty. But the Human Rights Committee made very clear, especially in its General command 36, that death penalty must only be applied for the most serious crimes. And when we have State parties reviews, we have a lot of discussion on this scope of most serious crimes. And we might have disagreements. We had the review of Egypt or we had the review of Iran, or of Kuwait, and the position of the state is to say that indeed maybe drug trafficking or drug users are not directly committed crimes but it’s extremely dangerous for the society, so for these states, this justify the implementation or the use of death penalty. So the work of the Human Rights Committee when we have States dialogue is really to explain that actually, when we talk about more serious crimes, we talk about intentional killings. The Human Rights Committee does not accept this very broad interpretation of this category of more serious crimes. But here we have an issue, and I was very happy also to hear what was said by the first speaker from Harm Reduction International, because some states said, okay we have our obligation under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, but we have also the obligation under especially the Convention Against Organized Crime, so it’s also our duty to fight against drug trafficking and so on, and that’s where we need UNODC. And for us, it’s extremely difficult to make clear that states’ obligation and human rights obligations under human rights treaties must be combined with States’ obligations under the Convention Against Organized Crime. So between Vienna and Geneva, we need to talk with one voice, because States in general use this other international treaty dealing with organized crime to justify the limitation or restriction of human rights. So it’s a it’s really an important point that was already mentioned by our first panellist.

The second element is a trend we see in some of the dialogues we have. It is not only the use of criminal legislation or death penalty for drug users or drug traffickers, but it’s also the misuse of this legislation. So sometimes and we raised the point with at least one of the State. Sometimes there is a sort of instrumentalization of legislation against drug trafficking vis-à-vis, for instance, marginalised persons or to fight against LGBT person. So in order to criminalise LGBT persons, States might use this legislation on drug trafficking to target LGBT people and accuse them of drug trafficking even if they are not drug traffickers or drug users. So we see also this tendency, this trend of misuse of this criminal legislative body. So it’s extremely important for the Human Rights Committee to make clear that first we cannot use criminal law and especially death penalty for offences that do not fall under this most serious crimes category, and it’s prohibited to misuse or to use this type of legislation as a way to fight against marginalised groups or to fight against minorities groups and so on and so forth. We had very recently two or three examples.

Our conversation with States when it’s about death penalty and drug offences is not only focused on right to life but it also triggers the violation of other rights protected by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights: protection against torture and ill treatment, and so on. Indeed, conditions of detention in death row is really a big issue a big concern for the Human Rights Committee, but not only basic condition of detention. We are also developing alongside the European Court of Human Rights or the Inter-American Court of Human Rights a set of positive obligations so states have positive obligations when people deprived of liberty. It’s not only about you know having a sort of minimum standard of condition of detention, but it’s also about developing positive obligations, for instance access to medicines, access to alternative medicines, access to health, access to mental health.

The third element is the mandatory use of the death penalty. It’s a big concern for the Human Rights Committee. We consider that there are too many states, even if there is a sort of positive trend, that still apply mandatory death penalty in situation of drug trafficking. For the Human Rights Committee it’s not only a violation of the right to life, but it’s also a violation of the right to a fair trial, article 14 of the Covenant. Depending on the states, we have many critical issues: fair trial is absolutely not respected, defense rights with a lot of examples of forced confessions and trials based on forced confession, lack of access to lawyers, lack of access to medical staff, and so on and so forth. So for the Human Rights Committee it’s extremely clear that when there is a death sentence without the basic judicial guarantees, the death sentence is arbitrary. So even if it’s in the legal system and in the criminal legislation, for the Human Rights Committee this is an arbitrary deprivation of life. So states must be extremely cautious in terms of not only their legislative framework but also access to Justice access to fair trial, independent bodies, prohibition of forced confession during the detention, and so on and so forth. So it’s extremely important to make the connection between fair trial and the protection of life. And if the accused is a foreigner, the Human Rights Committee does insist (there are also decisions and positions by the African Court on Human and People’s Rights or the Inter-American Court) on consular protection. So it’s extremely important also to bring to the accused consular information and support in the in the criminal process. Transparency, I’m not going to elaborate but it’s also a very important point. In many of the dialogues we have with States, we lack transparent and reliable information and statistics.

A final point I would like to bring to the attention of delegates and colleagues is the sentence, and also the commutation of sentence. We have, in some states, when the states do accept not to apply death penalty, we have the commutation of sentence. But for the Human Rights Committee If instead of death penalty we have a life sentence without any hope to be released, without any hope to be granted a sort of pardon, it might fall under the category of an ill treatment. We recently adopted in 2022 a case Alief versus Ukraine where the Human Rights Committee made very clear that indeed it’s very good when we have commutation of death sentence to deprivation of liberty sentence. But again it must be accompanied by at least the possibility to be granted pardon, otherwise for the Human Rights Committee, if it’s a life sentence without any possibility of release or hope or possibility to request, it’s a violation of prohibition of torture and ill treatment. So it’s also important to send this message to states that indeed if they go in this direction of suspending withdrawing death sentence, it’s also important to organise a sentencing regime that is respectful of prohibition of torture and ill treatment. thank you very much and I really look forward to arriving in Vienna in a couple of hours thank you.

Zaved. With that note I would like to open the floor very briefly to our colleague from Canada Permanent Mission, one of the co-sponsor of the event.

Canada. Yes thank you, good morning. I just wanted to take the floor briefly this morning to thank you chair thanks to the organisers Harm Reduction International and Amnesty and also to our panellists for sharing your experience and expertise today. Canada’s very proud to be supporting this side event and to be more generally part of this critical discussion on the use of capital punishment in response to drug related offences. I I’m very encouraged to see such strong support and engagement by both member states and civil society on this issue, and as the panellists have outlined this morning very effectively, just as the criminalisation of drugs has failed to curb drug use, evidence demonstrates that the death penalty fails to deter drug crimes. I don’t think it’ll come as any surprise that Canada unequivocally condemns the use of the death penalty in all cases. We abolished the death penalty in law and in practice a long time ago, because we believe it is incompatible with human rights and human dignity and can lead to irreversible injustice when innocent people are executed. And as was mentioned by several speakers including just now by Helene, those with intersecting identities are often disproportionately targeted including on the basis of gender, race, disability and other identity factors. To conclude Canada firmly believes that we cannot begin to grapple with persistent challenges to restricting the use of the death penalty or even to discuss pathways towards abolition without taking an intersectional approach. We remain committed to working with all of you towards a world free of this inhumane punishment, and thanks again for putting on such a terrific event this morning.

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