Australian Permanent Mission and Consulate-General
Geneva, Switzerland
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Human Rights Council - 25th Regular Session

High Level Panel Discussion on the Question of the Death Penalty
Australian Statement

5 March 2014


Australia welcomes the opportunity to participate in today’s discussion. We thank the speakers and panellists for sharing their views and experiences. These provided a valuable insight into the challenges relating to the abolition of the death penalty, as well as the active national debate in a number of countries on this issue.

Australia supports the universal abolition of the death penalty and considers it an inhumane form of punishment. There is no conclusive evidence on the deterrent value of the death penalty, and any miscarriage or failure of justice in its implementation is irreversible and irreparable.

We welcome developments noted in the Secretary-General’s most recent report suggesting the trend towards abolition is continuing. But Australia is concerned that some States have chosen to reintroduce the death penalty or resume executions. We are also concerned that some States have expanded the categories of crimes for which the death penalty may, or in some cases, must apply, and that several States do not restrict the use of the death penalty to the most serious crimes.

A particular concern highlighted by the Secretary-General is the use of the death penalty against children, persons with disabilities and other vulnerable groups.

We appreciate the ongoing attention paid to these issues – which helps to being much needed transparency and accountability to this deplorable area of State practice. We would be interested in further views on how we as an international community can build and maintain momentum for the effective abolition of the death penalty.