Mongolia’s leader announced a moratorium on the death penalty today, in a move warmly welcomed by the top United Nations human rights official.
President Elbegdorj Tsakhia said that the death penalty will be replaced with a 30-year prison sentence, with people currently on death row having their sentences commuted accordingly.
Mr. Tsakhia said that his goal is the complete abolition of the death penalty in Mongolia, where executions have traditionally been carried out in secret, but none since the President’s election last June.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay congratulated the leader “on this historic step which further strengthens human rights and protection in Mongolia.”
The President’s justification for the moratorium – that the death penalty both breaches the right to life and human dignity and is irreversible – “is extremely thoughtful and well-founded,” she added.
Ms. Pillay encouraged Mongolia to swiftly ratify the second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) to bolster its commitment to end the death penalty.
“Mongolia’s move sets a leadership example in Asia,” she said, regretting that some countries in the region are among the “world’s most prolific executioners.”
Some 140 countries no longer carry out the death penalty and 72 nations have signed onto the ICCPR’s second Optional Protocol, which abolishes the practice.
Last month, Ms. Pillay urged all States still imposing the penalty to place a formal moratorium on its use.