Governments must put an end to the death penalty - Amnesty International

File: AFP
File: AFP

Amnesty International has called on governments to put an end to the death penalty.

"Prisoners under sentence of death must be treated with humanity and dignity and held in conditions that meet international human rights law and standards," the organisation said in a statement on Wednesday, which is World Day Against the Death Penalty.

READ Crime stats: Call for more police for the poor as murder rate climbs

Amnesty International aims to pressure five countries where the death penalty is "rife" - Belarus, Ghana, Iran, Japan and Malaysia - in a bid to put an end to inhumane conditions of detention for prisoners sentenced to death.

"No matter what crime they may have committed, no one should be forced to endure inhumane conditions of detention," said Stephen Cockburn, deputy director of Amnesty International’s global issues programme.

"All governments retaining the death penalty must immediately abolish it and put an end to the appalling conditions of detention that too many death row prisoners are forced to endure."

High crime statistics

The organisation said that it strongly opposed the death penalty, irrespective of the crime committed, as it was a violation of human rights.

"The death penalty is a violation of the right to life as proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment," it said.

The Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) has called for a discussion on the death penalty, due to the high crime statistics in the country.

"Let's talk about the death penalty, let's talk about hard labour in our prisons without the chance of early parole for violent contact crimes, let's have this discussion and we call upon government to immediately facilitate such national process of discourse," IFP chief whip Narend Singh said in a statement in September.

This came after the murder of 9-year-old Miguel Louw, who went missing in July, and several cases of violent crime.

"Crime is out of control," the IFP said at the time.

The African Christian Democratic Party has promoted capital punishment as part of its policy.

"The ACDP will impose severe punishment on anyone found smuggling drugs or directly responsible for causing the sale of drugs. Those caught selling drugs on behalf of merchants will get life long sentences, with parole after 25 years.

"The death penalty will also be imposed on those convicted of premeditated murder," the party says in its Safety and Security policy.

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