Tutu Backs Global Ban on Death Penalty

Nobel Peace Prize laureate Desmond Tutu called for a global ban on the death penalty in a commentary featured in The Guardian newspaper on Tuesday.

The former archbishop of Cape Town wrote the piece ahead of a vote at the United Nations General Assembly on a draft resolution calling for a moratorium on executions with the ultimate goal of banning the practice later this month, according to Agence France-Presse.

"I am delighted that the death penalty is being removed from the globe," Tutu wrote, referring to the increasing number of countries abolishing the death penalty either in law or practice.

"The death penalty … says that to kill in certain circumstances is acceptable, and encourages the doctrine of revenge.

"If we are to break these cycles, we must remove government-sanctioned violence."

He called capital punishment a violation of fundamental human rights and called the practice to be abolished worldwide.

According to the human rights group Amnesty International, 133 countries have abolished the death penalty in law or practice, while 64 countries and territories still retain the practice.

"In country after country, it (capital punishment) is used disproportionately against the poor or against racial or ethnic minorities," Tutu wrote in The Guardian.

"It is often used as a tool or political repression. It is imposed and inflicted arbitrarily. It is an irrevocable punishment, resulting inevitably in the execution of people innocent of any crime."

"It is a violation of fundamental human rights," said the former South African archbishop.

The draft resolution on the death penalty was co-sponsored by 72 countries earlier this month, ahead of a vote by the full 192-member assembly, Italy's U.N. mission counselor Giuseppe Manzo said to AFP.

"The time has come to abolish the death penalty worldwide," Tutu wrote.

"The case for abolition becomes more compelling with each passing year."