Press Release

Pointing to Progress, IACHR Urges Continued Efforts to Abolish the Death Penalty

October 9, 2015

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Washington, D.C. - On the occasion of the 2015 World Day Against the Death Penalty, October 10, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) welcomes the progress made over the past year, including the abolition of the death penalty in Suriname and in the U.S. state of Nebraska. It also urges those Member States of the Organization of American States (OAS) that still have the death penalty to abolish it or impose a moratorium on its application as a first step toward abolition.

Suriname’s decision marks a very important step forward, one the IACHR applauds and hopes will become an example for the countries in the region that still have capital punishment. The Commission notes that the elimination of the death penalty in Suriname’s Criminal Code represents an opportunity for the Caribbean countries to make significant progress in guaranteeing human rights in the region.

In December 2014, Suriname voted in favor of a resolution in the United Nations General Assembly on a moratorium on the use of the death penalty. Along the same lines, high-level public officials in Suriname made statements indicating a wish to take an important step forward on this issue. Finally, in March of this year, in the context of debates on the adoption of a new Criminal Code, the National Assembly of Suriname approved the abolition of the death penalty.

Meanwhile, the state of Nebraska abolished capital punishment in May of this year, joining 18 other states and the District of Columbia that had already done so. This is a significant step, as the United States is currently the only OAS Member State that is carrying out executions under the death penalty.

The IACHR also stresses the need for countries that still allow for capital punishment in their legislation to move toward the goal of abolishing the death penalty throughout the region or at least imposing a moratorium on its application. The Commission invites States that have not done so to ratify the Protocol to the American Convention on Human Rights to Abolish the Death Penalty.

A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 115/15