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Germany calls for global abolition of death penalty on world awareness day

The German government has urged countries around the globe to bring an end to capital punishment. The call coincides with the thirteenth "World Day Against the Death Penalty."

German commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid, Christoph Strässer (SPD), said on Saturday that the punishment has no place in the 21st century.

"I encourage all people who work against this cruel and inhuman punishment, to continue their efforts continue," Strässer said.

"There is a misconception that the death penalty is good to fight crime," he commented, adding that despite a general move away from capital punishment around the world, the number of execution cases in China, Iran, Saudia Arabia and Iraq had recently been on the increase.

Amnesty International estimates that in the first half of this year alone,

almost 700 people were sentenced to death in Iran

. According to the human rights organization, there were executions in 22 countries last year.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier is due to visit Saudi Arabia and Iran later in October.

No excuse for execution

Strässer also noted on Saturday that many cases of execution follow "questionable verdicts" in which the confessions have been given as a result of torture.

It is "terrifying" he said, how often such defendants are offered no legal representation or a translator.

"These states, which can't ensure consistent enforcement, simply accept misjudgments," Strässer said, before rejecting any argument that the death penalty will help in the fight against terrorism.

"Violations of human rights in a social climate actually promote instability," he said.

The thirteenth "World Day Against the Death Penalty" on Saturday, aims this year to raise awareness specifically about the application of capital punishment for drug-related crimes.

ksb/jm (AFP, dpa)

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