Geneva, 26 February 2019
Biennial high-level panel discussion
on the question of the death penalty
Theme: Human rights violations related to the use of the death penalty, in particular with respect to the rights to non-discrimination and equality
STATEMENT BY H.E. GUÐLAUGUR ÞÓR ÞÓRÐARSON,
MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF ICELAND,
ON BEHALF THE NORDIC-BALTIC STATES
I am honoured to deliver this intervention on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic States: Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden and my own country Iceland.
We thank the panellists for their interventions. We reiterate our strong opposition to the death penalty in all circumstances. The death penalty constitutes a violation of the right to life and its abolition is necessary for the enhancement of human dignity and the progressive development of human rights.
We are alarmed by the evidence of discriminatory use of the death penalty against persons belonging to racial and ethnic minorities or based on gender or sexual orientation. The disproportionate impact of its use on persons in vulnerable and marginalized situations is particularly troubling.
When the UDHR was adopted, only 16 countries had abolished the death penalty. Today, more than two-thirds of the countries in the world have abolished it in law or practice. This represents a huge positive shift in the global outlook.
It is therefore deeply worrying that some States are now choosing to go against this global trend by resuming executions. Imposition of death sentences for any offence, including drug offences, is incompatible with the fundamental tenets of human rights.
Instead of resuming executions, authorities should focus on evidence-based approaches to crime prevention in conformity with international human rights law. Moreover, States providing bilateral technical assistance to combat drug crime must ensure that the programmes, to which they contribute, do not result in violations of the right to life.
In closing, we would like to ask the panel to share best practises in addressing the discriminatory use of the death penalty against women, especially linked to adultery.