Bishop Declan Lang, Bishop of Clifton and the lead Bishop for international affairs, has called on the UK government to prioritise its work against the death penalty and use new trade agreements as an opportunity to promote human rights.
Bishop Declan’s call comes as new figures published on Tuesday 11 April, show that there were 1,032 recorded executions in 2016 – a decrease of 37% on the previous year.
Emphasising the importance of continuing to promote global abolition he stated:
“It is extremely welcome that worldwide use of the death penalty has decreased so significantly. However, there is still much more progress to be made. More than 1,000 people were executed last year – they are not just statistics. Every execution is a violation of the innate dignity of the human person and we must continue to heed Pope Francis’ call to work for complete global abolition.
“I am encouraged by the UK government’s continued opposition to the death penalty in all circumstances, as recently reiterated at the Human Rights Council in Geneva. Now is a critical moment for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to actively prioritise its work in this area and help continue the trend towards a world without executions.
“As the UK establishes new economic relationships outside the EU, it is also more important than ever that we use trade agreements as an opportunity to promote human rights, including abolition of this inhumane and indefensible punishment.”
Last year Bishop Declan met Foreign Office Minister for Human Rights Baroness Anelay after hundreds of Catholics from across England and Wales wrote to their MP calling for global abolition of the death penalty to remain a explicit goal for the UK.
Death penalty: Global executions fall 37% since 2015