For the first time, they have chosen to address the death penalty simultaneously, issuing reports for the autumn session of the General Assembly on the subject. The reports were issued today.
The Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary and Arbitrary Executions devotes detailed attention to the issue of ‘most serious crimes’, where debate rages as to whether capital punishment imposed for drug trafficking is compatible with international law. The Special Rapporteur on Torture, after covering the ways in which capital punishment interacts with his mandate, considers the evolving international legal norm by which capital punishment is, in and of itself, a form of torture.
It has always puzzled me that the world will condemn a situation where an individual is hooked up to electrodes and jolted unconscious by electricity by his or her tormentors, unless the electricity is strong enough to kill, in which case there are some who say this is not prohibited by international law. Or where we denounce the amputation of various parts of the body, such as hands and feet, as a form of punishment, only to deem it compatible with international law if it is the head that is amputated.
Well done to the Special Rapporteurs for this terrific initiative. Hopefully, it will help to build momentum for the General Assembly debate and the bi-annual resolution calling for a moratorium on capital punishment.