The UK, a fierce opponent of the death penalty, is marking the 50th anniversary of the last execution in the UK on 13 August 2014.
The death penalty for murder was suspended for a trial period the year after Peter Allen (in Liverpool) and Gwynne Evans (in Manchester) were executed in 1964. In 1969 it was abolished altogether by a vote in the House of Commons, which won an overwhelming majority and loud cheers from the public gallery.
Speaking today, Hamish Cowell, British Ambassador to Tunis said:
the UK Government acknowledges that many people – including in the UK – support capital punishment in principle. But errors cannot be excluded from any penal system and we do not believe that the execution of innocent people can ever be justified. We also believe the use of capital punishment undermines human dignity, and we are not convinced that it has any deterrent effect. On the opposite side, abolishing it would enhance international reputation and can be linked to increasing cooperation levels of trade, foreign investment, defence and security.
We are pleased to see that more countries than ever are espousing abolition. Amnesty International currently records 140 states as abolitionist in law or practice, a number which has risen substantially within the last two decades. We hope the UK’s path to abolition may help to encourage others, including Tunisia, to join this growing list of abolitionists.
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