IBAHRI supports ‘executive moratorium’ on the death penalty in California

The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) welcomes the recent executive order by the Honorable Governor of California, Gavin Newsom, effectively imposing a moratorium on the death penalty in the North American state through the command of ‘reprieve for all people sentenced to death in California’. However, while this executive order is a positive step, the IBAHRI remains concerned that it falls short of full abolition of the death penalty and calls on the California State Legislature to introduce legislation to repeal the death penalty in all circumstances.

The IBAHRI opposes the death penalty in all its forms. In 2008, the IBAHRI Council passed a Resolution on the abolition of the death penalty, which stated, inter alia:

  • ‘Noting that international consensus on the abolition of the death penalty has not yet been reached and that there are those who advocate its continued use with cultural and religious arguments, [the IBAHRI]
    1. Recommends that all countries throughout the world should take steps towards the complete abolition of the death penalty,
    2. Recommends that until abolition takes place those countries that continue to use the death penalty should progressively restrict its imposition and the crimes to which it applies, [and]
    3. Recommends that all countries should consider imposing a moratorium on executions’.

On 17 December 2018, the United Nations adopted a resolution, with a vote of 121-35 in favour with 32 abstentions, calling on all states to establish a moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty.

The imposition of the death penalty is viewed by most human rights organisations, including the IBAHRI, as an infringement of the universally guaranteed right to life and is carried out in a way that amounts to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, contrary to both the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

The IBAHRI calls for the abolition of the death penalty without exclusions.


Notes to the Editor

  1. Download the IBAHRI Council Resolution on the abolition of the death penalty
  2. The International Bar Association (IBA) – the global voice of the legal profession – is the foremost organisation for international legal practitioners, bar associations and law societies. Established in 1947, shortly after the creation of the United Nations, it was born out of the conviction that an organisation made up of the world's bar associations could contribute to global stability and peace through the administration of justice.

    In the ensuing 70 years since its creation, the organisation has evolved from an association comprised exclusively of bar associations and law societies to one that incorporates individual international lawyers and entire law firms. The present membership is comprised of more than 80,000 individual international lawyers from most of the world’s leading law firms and some 190 bar associations and law societies spanning more than 170 countries.

    The IBA has considerable expertise in providing assistance to the global legal community, and through its global membership, it influences the development of international law reform and helps to shape the future of the legal profession throughout the world.

    The IBA’s administrative office is in London, United Kingdom. Regional offices are located in: São Paulo, Brazil; Seoul, South Korea; and Washington DC, United States, while the International Bar Association’s International Criminal Court and International Criminal Law Programme (ICC & ICL) is managed from an office in The Hague, the Netherlands.

    The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI), an autonomous and financially independent entity, works to promote, protect and enforce human rights under a just rule of law, and to preserve the independence of the judiciary and the legal profession worldwide.

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