'The death penalty is irreversible. In all criminal justice systems there is a risk that mistakes will be made and innocent people will be convicted. Given this fact, no state should be willing to use the death penalty,' said Minister of Foreign Affairs Børge Brende.
This year's World Day Against the Death Penalty focuses on the issue of whether people living in poverty and socially marginalised and discriminated groups are at greater risk of being sentenced to death and executed.
'We need more knowledge and greater awareness of the links between poverty, discrimination, and differential treatment by the criminal justice system. We cannot allow economic and social status to make a difference to who is arrested, found guilty or at risk of being sentenced to death,' Mr Brende said.
Norway opposes all use of the death penalty. Our goal is the global abolition of the death penalty, and Norway works systematically in the UN and at the bilateral level towards this end. We urge countries that have not yet abolished the death penalty to introduce an immediate moratorium on the use of death penalty and to suspend all executions. During the 36th session of the UN Human Rights Council, which was concluded recently, Norway worked actively together with a number of other countries to secure as broad support as possible for a resolution on the question of the death penalty.
There is a global trend to move away from the use of the death penalty, and more than two out of three countries have now abolished the death penalty by law or in practice. However, in some countries, we are seeing a trend in a negative direction. According to Amnesty International, for example, there has been an increase across 55 countries in the total number of death sentences, from 1 998 in 2015 to 3 117 in 2016.
'I am deeply concerned by reports of a large number of death sentences and executions in several countries this year, including in countries such as Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia. At the same time, I welcome the fact that Gambia has now signed, and Madagascar has ratified, the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights on the abolition of the death penalty. Global abolition of the death penalty is possible. The fight against the death penalty must continue,' said Mr Brende.
World Day Against the Death Penalty is organised by the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty. More information about the global campaign, and an overview of local events all over the world can be found here.