52nd Session of the Human Rights Council: South African Statement delivered by: Hon. Candith Mashego-Dlamini, Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Biennial High-Level Panel Discussion on the Question of the Death Penalty: Theme: Human Rights Violations Relating to the Use of the Death Penalty, in particular, with Respect to Limiting the Death Penalty to the Most Serious Crimes. Geneva, Switzerland, 28 February 2023
South Africa thanks the panellist for their rich presentations.
My delegation recognises the sanctity of life and dignity and that these rights are a source of all other fundamental rights. South Africa abolished the death penalty given the recognition that the death penalty is a form of cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment.
Our position on the death penalty stems from our apartheid past, when South Africa had one of the highest rates of judicial executions in the world, with the apartheid regime executing an average, roughly, one hundred human beings, mainly Black, a year between 1960 to 1989.
South Africa’s position is also informed by its abolition of the death penalty following the Constitutional Court ruling on the matter of State versus Makwanyane.
South Africa recognises that there is a global increase in states that are abolishing the death penalty. We further encourage those states that still maintain the death penalty to consider placing a moratorium on the death penalty.
In conclusion Mr. President, we support and encourage the global trend towards end the death penalty. And we do so being inspired by the words of the late Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, who reminds us that:
“The time has come to abolish the death penalty worldwide. The case for abolition becomes more compelling with each passing year. Everywhere experience shows us that executions brutalise both those involved in the process and the society that carries them out. Nowhere has it been shown that the death penalty reduces crime or political violence. In country after country, it is used disproportionately against the poor or against racial or ethnic minorities. It is often used as a tool of political repression. It is imposed and inflicted arbitrarily. It is an irrevocable punishment, resulting inevitably in the execution of people innocent of any crime”.
Hence, we firmly believe that the death penalty is a violation of a fundamental human rights, the right to life!
I thank you.
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