Death Penalty Abolition Debate

India votes against UNGA draft resolution on use of death penalty

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: IR | Important International institutions, agencies & fora, their structure, mandate

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Debate over ban on death penalty


News

  • India has voted against a United Nations General Assembly draft resolution on the use of death penalty, saying it goes against the statutory law of the country where an execution is carried out in the “rarest of rare” cases.

UN Against Death Penalty

  1. The draft resolution, taken up in the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian, Cultural) of the General Assembly was approved with a recorded vote of 123 in favour, 36 against and 30 abstentions.
  2. India was among the countries that voted against the resolution, which would have the Assembly call on all States to respect international standards on the rights of those facing death penalty.
  3. The draft aimed to ensure that it is not applied on the basis of discriminatory laws or as a result of discriminatory or arbitrary application of the law.

India’s Stance of Death Penalty

  1. The resolution sought to promote a moratorium on executions with the aim of abolishing death penalty.
  2. India has voted against the resolution as a whole, as it goes against statutory law in India.
  3. The death penalty is exercised in ‘rarest of rare’ cases, where the crime committed is so heinous that it shocks the conscience of the society.
  4. Indian law provides for all requisite procedural safeguards, including the right to a fair trial by an independent Court, presumption of innocence, the minimum guarantees for defence, and the right to review by a higher court.
  5. Indian delegation has argued for the sovereign right to determine its own legal system and appropriate legal penalties.

Singapore brings in Amendment

  1. Singapore’s delegate decried the draft resolution’s “one-size-fits-all” approach to a delicate question, which seeks to impose a particular vision of the world onto others.
  2. The representative of Singapore said the amendment aimed to ensure respect for the diversity of views.
  3. The amendment is simple and neutral and it does not take a position on the substance of the draft resolution, nor make judgments about State policies.

Voting for Sovereignty over Legal System

  1. The draft resolution’s passage followed an intense debate and Singapore introduced an amendment on behalf of 34 countries that reaffirmed the countries’ sovereign right to develop their own legal system.
  2. The Committee then approved this amendment by a recorded vote of 96 in favour to 73 against, with 14 abstentions.
  3. India voted in favour of this amendment.
  4. By its terms, the Assembly would reaffirm the sovereign right of all countries to develop their own legal systems, including determining appropriate legal penalties, in accordance with their international law obligations.
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