Following is the text of UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ video message for the high-level side event on the gender dimensions of the death penalty, held today:
I am delighted to greet this important event on the gender dimensions of the death penalty.
The United Nations advocates for every country, in all circumstances, to abolish this cruellest of punishments. We should all be greatly concerned at the disproportionate and discriminatory application of the death penalty to women. Research indicates that women, overwhelmingly from fragile socioeconomic backgrounds, are sentenced to the death penalty for drug-related offences far more often than men.
And as the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions has highlighted, it is rare for domestic abuse to be treated as a mitigating factor during capital sentencing. For many women this is a double injustice: laws that fail to protect them from domestic abuse are used to prosecute them to the fullest extent.
I reiterate my call on States to abolish the death penalty in all circumstances. I invite you to support our call to States that retain the death penalty to establish an official moratorium, with a view to abolition.
Pending full abolition, I call on States to ensure that the death penalty is not applied on the basis of discriminatory laws or as a result of arbitrary application of the law. And in line with my Call to Action for Human Rights, I urge all States to repeal such discriminatory laws.
Thank you again for raising global awareness about this issue. I wish you a productive event.