Push to abolish the death penaltyThe National Human Rights Commission on Tuesday recommended that Korea accede to an international protocol renouncing capital punishment.
The 11 members of the commission unanimously made the recommendation that the country join the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which aims to abolish the death penalty, during their first meeting presided by the commission’s new chair, Choi Yeong-ae.
Korea is one of four members of the 36-nation Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development that have not yet acceded to the protocol, along with the United States, Israel and Japan.
Korea has a de-facto moratorium on capital punishment. The country still issues the death penalty, but it has not carried out an execution since 1998, nor has the country officially declared its discontinuance.
“Opinion polls have so far shown that a majority of people expressed views that the death penalty is inevitable due to such reasons as extreme pain and sense of loss among victims’ families, the realization of justice and crime prevention,” the commission said. “We are well aware of these views and concerns, but it is difficult to see it as the only form of compensation and a genuine form of compensation to victims and their families, to deprive criminals of their lives.”
By acceding to the protocol, the commission said it hopes the country will make the suspension of executions official and take steps to abolish capital punishment. It also urged the government to vote for a United Nations resolution on a moratorium on the death penalty at the United Nations General Assembly in December.