The inequalities linked to the death penalty : a priority for the UN


27 September 2018

On the 25th of September 2018 took place in New York, at the headquarters of the UN, a key meeting on the current issues of the death penalty, at the same time as the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA 73). The death penalty was specifically dealt with through the spectrum of poverty and the right to legal representation.

In the presence of the delegations of Italy, Brazil, Burkina Faso, France and East Timor, who sponsored the event, as well as the representatives of Spain, Belgium, the European Union, Ukraine, Kenya, Côte d’Ivoire and the Vatican, Michelle Bachelet called “all the States to demonstrate their commitment to the universal abolition of the death penalty.”

“International human rights law calls for the abolition of the death penalty, because it considers the penalty itself a violation of rights. But international human rights law also opposes the inequity in the death penalty’s application.”


Read the complete speech of Michelle Bachele: Poverty makes people especially vulnerable to injustice, Death Penalty: Poverty and the Right to legal Representation.Poverty makes people especially vulnerable to injustice, Death Penalty: Poverty and the Right to legal Representation

This declaration makes the universal abolition of the death penalty a sine qua done condition in order to fully respect human rights, as these are described in the goals of sustainable development before 2030 ("The Sustainable Development Goals"). This global plan, adopted by the state members three years ago, does indeed aim to ensure “dignity, peace and prosperity for nations and the planet now and in the future”.

The death penalty is noted as an iconic example of the way in which disparities in the application of the rule of law affects the poorest people, a fragment of the global population whose needs explained in these goals are urgent.


A strong testimony, that of Ndume Olatushani, justified these arguments. After having spent 28 years in prison in the United States of America, 20 of those being on death row, for a crime he did not commit, Ndume speaks today on behalf of those who, like him, were victims of a justice which doesn’t treat the poor or minorities the same way as others. “I never met anyone rich in prison, they were all like me. It is our responsibility to ensure that what happened to me will never happen again.” he declared. Very committed to the struggle against the death penalty since he left prison, Ndume was a genuine base during the last World Congress against the death penalty in Oslo in 2016, experience that he mentioned when he was interviewed by ECPM.


The headquarters of the UN vibrate under the abolitionist dynamic. The director of ECPM, Raphaël Chenuil-Hazan, mentioned the important values which drive the association in their struggle against the death penalty. He also took advantage of this occasion to invite all the government leaders to come to the up-coming World Congress against the death penalty which will be taking place in Brussels from the 27th of February to the 1st of March 2019.


Read the speech pf Raphaël Chenuil-Hazan at the UNGA

Find the interventions of Ndume Olatushani and Raphaël Chenuil-Hazan.


Images : captures d'écran © UN WebTv