Question of the death penalty

Commission on Human Rights resolution 1997/12


The Commission on Human Rights,

Recalling article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which affirms the right of everyone to life, article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and articles 6 and 37 (a) of the Convention on the Rights of the Child,

Recalling General Assembly resolutions 2857 (XXVI) of 20 December 1971 and 32/61 of 8 December 1977 on capital punishment, as well as resolution44/128 of 15 December 1989, in which the Assembly adopted and opened for signature, ratification and accession the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty,

Recalling also Economic and Social Council resolutions 1574 (L) of 20May 1971, 1745 (LIV) of 16 May 1973, 1930 (LVIII) of 6 May 1975, 1984/50 of 25 May 1984, 1985/33 of 29 May 1985, 1989/64 of 24 May 1996, 1990/29 of 24May1990, 1990/51 of 24 July 1990 and 1996/15 of 23 July 1996,

Recalling further the report of the Secretary-General on capital punishment and implementation of the Safeguards guaranteeing protection of the rights of those facing the death penalty (E/CN.15/1996/19), which states that there has been a considerable shift towards the abolition of the death penalty,

Welcoming the exclusion of capital punishment from the penalties that the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda are authorized to impose,

Welcoming the observation of the Human Rights Committee, in its General CommentNo.6 of 27 July 1982 on article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, that the provisions contained in that article refer to abolition of the death penalty in terms which strongly suggest that abolition is desirable, and its affirmation that all measures of abolition should be considered as progress in the enjoyment of the right to life,

Deeply concerned that several countries impose the death penalty in disregard of the limitations provided for in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child,

Concerned also that several countries, in imposing the death penalty, do not take into account the Safeguards guaranteeing protection of the rights of those facing the death penalty, set out in the annex to Economic and Social Council resolution 1984/50,

Convinced that abolition of the death penalty contributes to the enhancement of human dignity and to the progressive development of human rights,

1. Calls upon all States parties to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights that have not yet done so to consider acceding to or ratifying the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty;

2. Urges all States that still maintain the death penalty to comply fully with their obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, notably not to impose the death penalty for any but the most serious crimes, not to impose it for crimes committed by persons below eighteen years of age, to exclude pregnant women from capital punishment and to ensure the right to seek pardon or commutation of sentence;

3. Calls upon all States that still maintain the death penalty to observe the Safeguards guaranteeing protection of the rights of those facing the death penalty, set out in the annex to Economic and Social Council resolution1984/50;

4. Calls upon all States that have not yet abolished the death penalty progressively to restrict the number of offences for which the death penalty may be imposed;

5. Also calls upon all States that have not yet abolished the death penalty to consider suspending executions, with a view to completely abolishing the death penalty;

6. Requests the Secretary-General to submit to the Commission on Human Rights, in consultation with Governments, specialized agencies and intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, a yearly supplement on changes in law and practice concerning the death penalty worldwide to his quinquennial report on capital punishment and implementation of the Safeguards guaranteeing protection of the rights of those facing the death penalty;

7. Calls upon States that still retain the death penalty to make available to the public information with regard to the imposition of the death penalty;

8. Decides to continue consideration of the matter at its fifty-fourth session under the same agenda item.

37th meeting
3 April 1997

[Adopted by a roll-call vote of 27 votes to 11, with 14 abstentions. See chap.XIV.]


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