Policies

Death Penalty

  • Location Ratified / Australia
  • Ratifying Body / Regional Congress
  • Status / Current

Whereas the International Humanist and Ethical Union affirms the worth and dignity of every human being and has, through past resolutions expressed its opposition to all cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment, and

Whereas, the continuation of the death penalty on the statute books is in dissonance with the right to life recognised by Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and

Whereas poisoning, gassing, hanging, beheading, being shot or being electrocuted are cruel and degrading forms of punishment violative of all universal standards of human rights, and

Whereas the governments which employ the death penalty suffer diminished ethical standing, and

Whereas the death penalty has never been shown as a uniquely effective deterrent, and

Whereas the establishing of guilt beyond any reasonable doubt is extremely difficult: 87 people sentenced to death have been exonerated in the US alone, and

Whereas execution of any convicted but innocent person is an irreversible act, and

Whereas the execution of juveniles and the mentally retarded is morally reprehensible,

NOW THEREFORE, the IHEU (reiterating the 1989 Resolution of its Board of Directors on Capital Punishment), in pursuit of the goal of establishing the highest ethical principles as moral standards for the laws and government of all civilised nations, and gravely concerned with the death penalty continuing to be legal in countries like the US, China, Saudi Arabia, Congo, Iran, India and Japan, (the US combined with China, Congo, Iran and Saudi Arabia accounting for 85% of the world’s executions),

  1. Calls on these nations to re-examine the criminal law in their domestic jurisdiction
  2. Welcomes both legislative and executive initiatives at the national and regional levels to impose moratoriums on carrying out any capital punishments (as in
    Illinois State, US)
  3. Opposes any legislation which would make execution of current or future convicts more likely through limitations in the appeals process or otherwise4) Advocates the greatly expanded use of every available means, whether judicial, scientific or technical, to ensure due process and fair trials for all accused persons; and asks that the right to DNA testing be extended to all 5) Reiterates its unswerving opposition to capital punishment

Calls on IHEU member organisations to campaign at the national and international level for the abolition of the death penalty.

IHEU Regional Congress, Australia, November

Suggested academic reference

'Death Penalty', Humanists International, Regional Congress, Australia

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