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Holy See speaks out against death penalty

Archbishop Ivan Jurkovič, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations in Geneva, on Wednesday spoke against capital punishment. - AP

Archbishop Ivan Jurkovič, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations in Geneva, on Wednesday spoke against capital punishment. - AP

02/03/2017 17:16

(Vatican Radio) Archbishop Ivan Jurkovič, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva, on Wednesday reaffirmed that life is sacred from conception to natural death in a meeting at the UN Human Rights Council on the death penalty.

“In  this regard,  one should consider  that human justice is fallible and that  the  death penalty  per  se  is  irreversible,” – Archbishop Jurkovič said – “We  should  take  into  account  that  capital  punishment always includes  the possibility  of taking the life of  an innocent  person.  Moreover,  we believe  that,  whenever  possible,  the  legislative  and  judicial  authorities  must  always seek to  ensure the possibility for guilty  parties  to make amends  and to remedy,  at least in part, the impact of their crimes.”

 

The full statement by Archbishop Jurkovič is below

 

Statement by His Excellency Archbishop Ivan Jurkovič, Permanent Observer of the Holy See

to the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva at the 34th

Session of the Human Rights Council – Item 3 – Biennial High-Level Panel on

“The Death Penalty” 1st March 2017

 

Mr. Chairman,

The Holy See thanks the High Commissioner and the distinguished panelists for their  presentations.  My  Delegation  appreciates  the  ongoing  efforts  toward  the elimination of the death penalty in many countries.

Mr. Chairman,

My  Delegation  reaffirms that life is sacred “…from conception to natural death,” and  recalls  the  words  Pope  Francis,  that  “even  a  criminal  has  the  inviolable  right  to life”.

In  this regard,  one should consider  that human justice is fallible and that  the  death penalty  per  se  is  irreversible.  We  should  take  into  account  that  capital  punishment always includes  the possibility  of taking the life of  an innocent  person.  Moreover,  we believe  that,  whenever  possible,  the  legislative  and  judicial  authorities  must  always seek to  ensure the possibility for guilty  parties  to make amends  and to remedy,  at least in part, the impact of their crimes.

At  present,  there  is  insufficient  evidence  that  the  death  penalty  has  a  deterrent effect on crime. As Pope  Francis  recently  has  affirmed,  in his letter to  the  President of the International Commission against the Death Penalty, “for a constitutional state the death penalty represents a failure, because it obliges a State to kill in the name of justice. But justice is never reached by killing a human being”.

My Delegation believes that more humane measures are available to address crime, ensuring  the  victim  the  right  to  justice  and  giving  the  criminal  the  chance  to  reform. Moreover,  this  will  facilitate  the  development  of  a  more  just  and  fair  society,  fully respectful of human dignity.

Mr. Chairman,

In  conclusion,  the  Holy  See  is  strongly  committed  to  the  aim  of  abolishing  the use of  the  death  penalty,  and we  firmly  support, as  an  interim measure, the  moratoria established by the 2014 General Assembly resolution.  Moreover, we take this occasion to encourage  States to improve prison conditions  in order  to  guarantee  respect  for  the dignity  of  every  person  without  regard  for  criminal  status,  and  to  ensure  the implementation of the right of the accused to a fair trial and due process.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

02/03/2017 17:16