13th World Day Against the Death Penalty – this Saturday, 10th October 2015

On 10 October 2015, the 13th World Day Against the Death Penalty is raising awareness around the application of the death penalty for drug-related offences, to reduce its use. Read on for more information on the death penalty and drug offences, and to find out how you can take action.


“Today capital punishment is unacceptable, however serious the condemned’s crime may have been. It is an offence to the inviolability of life and to the dignity of the human person which contradicts God’s plan for man and for society and his merciful justice, and it fails to conform to any just purpose of punishment. It does not render justice to the victims, but rather foments revenge.”

Pope Francis, Letter to the President of the International Commission Against the Death Penalty


In the 1980s and 1990s, a trend emerged towards the abolition of the death penalty as countries repealed laws allowing capital punishment or simply ceased the practice of execution. However, during the same period, because of the so-called war on drugs, an increasing number of countries enacted laws permitting the death penalty for drug-related offences. Today, 33 countries prescribe the death penalty for such crimes.


It is widely condemned by the UN, and not endorsed or required in international drug control law.


Why some countries are pushing for an alternative to the death penalty and harsh sentences:

  • Many countries are unequivocally opposed to the death penalty, in all circumstances, and consider that the death penalty undermines human dignity and that errors in its application are irreversible. They also argue that imposing the death penalty for drug offences is against the norms of international law.

  • In countries that have introduced alternative drug policies – such as decriminalisation and harm reduction – crime and addiction did not increase but instead, important benefits were observed in terms of public health, drug treatment and human rights.

  • Attempts to arrest drug users, sellers and traffickers and bring the multi-billion dollar trade under control can have the opposite effect. Crackdowns often exacerbate violence by destabilizing illegal markets and informal controls.

  • The alternative to such punitive measures is to treat drug use as a health and human rights issue, rather than a criminal one – to support, not punish people who use drugs (www.supportdontpunish.org).

More information on the death penalty and drug offences can be read here.


How you can take action:


For more information on 13th World Day Against the Death Penalty and how you can get involved, head to 13th World Day Against the Death Penalty: Drug Crimes.


Information sourced from: 13th World Day Against the Death Penalty: Drug Crimes

Updated: October 7, 2015 — 12:09 pm
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