The question of the death penalty

The 36th session of the UN Human Rights Council took place from 11-29 September 2017.

Chaired by Benin, Belgium, Costa Rica, France, Mexico, Republic of Moldova, Mongolia, and Switzerland, the resolution focused on the right to equality and non-discrimination in the context of the use of the death penalty as per the Secretary General’s report presented during the session. The resolution condemns the imposition of the death penalty as a sanction for specific forms of conduct, such as apostasy, blasphemy, adultery and consensual same-sex relations, and expressing serious concern that the application of the death penalty for adultery is disproportionately imposed on women. The resolution further deplores the fact that, frequently, poor and economically vulnerable persons and foreign nationals are disproportionately subjected to the death penalty, that laws carrying the death penalty are used against persons exercising their rights to freedom of expression, thought, conscience, religion, and peaceful assembly and association, and that persons belonging to religious or ethnic minorities are disproportionately represented among those sentenced to the death penalty. 

Of particular note is the USA’s vote against this resolution, despite its strong support for previous resolutions condemning violence and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Furthermore, States that previously voted against the most recent resolution on sexual orientation and gender identity, voted in favour of this resolution, including Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Kyrgyzstan, and Togo.
This is the first UN resolution explicitly referencing adultery at either the Human Rights Council or the General Assembly.

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