New York, 21 July 2020
Item 19: Social and human rights questions – (c) Crime prevention and criminal justice – Report of the Secretary-General on capital punishment [E/2020/53]
Your Excellency, dear Amb. Munir, distinguished Delegates and Colleagues,
The Holy See thanks the Secretary-General for presenting his quinquennial report on capital punishment, covering the period 2014 – 2018.
The Holy See opposes the death penalty for any reason.
In the past, “[r]ecourse to the death penalty on the part of legitimate authority, following a fair trial, was long considered an appropriate response to the gravity of certain crimes and an acceptable, albeit extreme, means of safeguarding the common good. Today, however, there is an increasing awareness that the dignity of the person is not lost even after the commission of very serious crimes. In addition, a new understanding has emerged of the significance of penal sanctions imposed by the state. Lastly, more effective systems of detention have been developed, which ensure the due protection of citizens but, at the same time, do not definitively deprive the guilty of the possibility of redemption. Consequently, the Church teaches, in the light of the Gospel, that “the death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person”, and she works with determination for its abolition worldwide.” (CCC 2267).
The report of the Secretary-General presents several welcomed developments: the number of countries categorized as “fully abolitionist in law” continues to grow, as does the number of countries “abolitionist for ordinary crimes”, and a number of States have made notable changes to their criminal codes, further limiting the number of crimes punishable by the death penalty.
That being said, the increases in the number of executions in some of the years covered by the report is of real concern.
The Holy See calls on the international community, building on the growing public opposition to the death penalty, to maintain its efforts towards further moratoria, leading to the complete abolition on this form of punishment.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.