Amnesty International welcomes Canadian decision to co-sponsor upcoming UN General Assembly resolution calling for a global moratorium on executions
In response to Canada’s announcement today that it will co-sponsor a UN General Assembly resolution calling for a global moratorium on executions, Amnesty International Canada Secretary General Alex Neve said:
“The announcement that Canada will, for the first time, co-sponsor the upcoming UN General Assembly resolution calling for a global moratorium on executions, is a welcome indication that Canada is indeed committed to the worldwide campaign against the death penalty. Canada’s refusal, on the five previous occasions that this resolution has come before the UN in the last nine years, has been deeply troubling. Around the world, momentum is growing towards ending executions and abolishing the death penalty. Canada is now well-positioned to take on a key leadership role with respect to this important human rights issue.”
The draft 2016 resolution on a “Moratorium on the use of the death penalty” is expected to be introduced at the beginning of November.
Since 2007, the UN General Assembly has considered and adopted five resolutions on the abolition of the death penalty. In all five cases, Canada has voted in favor of the motions but declined to serve as co-sponsor.
Most recently, in 2014, the resolution was adopted with 117 votes in favour, 38 against and 34 abstentions. 95 UN member states co-sponsored the 2014 resolution.
Until now, Canada has been the only abolitionist country to consistently decline to co-sponsor UN Resolutions on abolition. Co-sponsorship demonstrates leadership and is a means by which governments show their clear support for a resolution before it comes to a vote. Co-sponsorship helps build wider support for the resolution and encourages other countries to vote in favour.
It has been more than 50 years since Canada has employed the death penalty and it has historically been a leading voice for global abolition. The last execution in Canada took place in 1962. The death penalty was abolished for murder in 1976 and then removed from all laws, including military laws, in 1998.
The news of Canada becoming a co-sponsor of the UN resolution follows on an earlier announcement this year that Canada would resume its policy of consistently seeking clemency on behalf of Canadians sentenced to death in other countries.
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 The USA voted against the resolution but its vote was not captured in the official voting sheet, which reports 37 votes against.