10th October 2012

No to Capital Punishment

Today is both World and European Day against the Death Penalty.

As British Ambassador to Ethiopia, I am responsible for lobbying the Ethiopian government on issues that are important to the United Kingdom. And in partnership with other European Union (EU) Ambassadors, I will be calling on the Ethiopian government to abolish the death penalty. I firmly believe that the death penalty undermines human dignity and the principles of basic human rights.

It has been 47 years since the UK abolished the death penalty for murder. Since then, the British government has made it its goal to work with other countries to end capital punishment. The UK anti-death penalty policy has three key elements – working towards increasing the number of abolitionist countries; lobbying for restrictions on the use of the death penalty and seeking reductions in the numbers of executions in countries that retain the death penalty; and ensuring any execution that does take place in spite of this meets minimum EU standards.

We are determined to fight for the end of the death penalty throughout the world. And efforts by the UK to achieve this goal have borne fruit in many countries. But sadly there are still many countries that practice the death penalty. Last year, according to Amnesty International, there were more than 680 executions across the world.

There are many arguments that countries use to justify retention of capital punishment. But aside from being morally unacceptable in the 21st century, there is no evidence to suggest that the death penalty deters crime: many countries that have chosen to preserve the death penalty still have high crime rates. It is also a sentence which is impossible to reverse when judicial mistakes have been made. And how can citizens learn to respect the importance of tolerance and forgiveness if their governments choose to retain the use of capital punishment?

Ethiopia’s last execution was in 2007. Death sentences are still handed out by Ethiopian courts, for a number of crimes. But the retention of the death penalty in Ethiopia looks archaic and undermines Ethiopia’s many, many positive policies and practices. I hope very much therefore that we will see a moratorium here in the short term, leading to the abolition of capital punishment.

1 comment on “No to Capital Punishment

  1. I agree with the views of his Excellency the Ambassador. Capital punishment is archaic and against the right to life no matter the type of crime committed by the concerned person. It is also unacceptable on religious ground since destroying life created by God is a sinfull act. I also hope that the Ethiopian Government will abolish capital punishment.

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