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General Assembly – Third Committee

Statement delivered by Italy at the Third Committee Panel Discussion on “Transparency and the Death Penalty – What’s to hide?” —

Mr. Secretary-General,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

we are very pleased today to co-host this important panel discussion on Transparency and the Death Penalty. For many years, Italy has proudly been at the forefront of several initiatives concerning the death penalty, being firmly convinced that the capital punishment is not a deterrent for crime.

The international Campaign on the universal moratorium of the death penalty has been a top priority for our foreign policy since the 1990s and it is deeply felt also among our civil society. Our efforts have been rewarded by the adoption in 2007 of landmark resolution GA 62/149 on the moratorium on death penalty, which since then has seen growing support among UN membership.

Moreover, during the last years, Italy has been at the side of the Secretary-General and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in supporting its work on the death penalty, including important awareness-raising and discussion events on the most crucial aspects of the issue and to which we have devoted a financial contribution in support of daily activities. Transparency deficits are undoubtedly among them.

While welcoming clear progress and many encouraging signs, including the fall in the number of executions around the world last year by more than a third compared to the previous year, the lack of transparency on the use of the death penalty worldwide continues to be of great concern.

First of all, the lack of transparency in some criminal justice systems and on data concerning death sentences makes it impossible to confirm any credible figures.
Second, transparency also plays a critical role in relation to the implementation of the safeguards guaranteeing protection of the human rights of those facing the death penalty. As highlighted by the Secretary-General, “the implementation of the death penalty without the requisite transparency makes it difficult, if not impossible, to assess whether it is being carried out in compliance with international human rights standards”.

For these reasons, we strongly support the Secretary-General’s call on States that maintain the death penalty to systematically provide full and accurate information on death sentences, including disaggregated data on gender, age, nationality, ethnic origin and other relevant demographics of the persons affected.

The latest resolution on a moratorium on the use of the death penalty, adopted by the General Assembly in December 2016 with strong cross-regional support, is a particularly important instrument in this regard. Not only does it unequivocally frames the death penalty as a global human rights concern, but it also strongly calls on all States to increase the transparency in the use of death penalty, including by making publicly available information on any scheduled executions.

While continuing to strongly advocate for the universal moratorium of the capital punishment, since the very outset of the international Campaign we have been deeply convinced that this objective can only be achieved through dialogue and mutual understanding among all Member States, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations.

In this spirit, we firmly believe that increased transparency surrounding numbers and procedures by the countries where it is still practiced would allow a considerable enhancement of the debate around capital punishment.

Thank you.