Amnesty International has urged President Pranab Mukherjee to immediately halt all the death sentences and go with the internationally accepted principle of “right to life” in the backdrop of increasing demands for the execution of Parliament attack case convict Afzal Guru.

Amnesty International India’s chief executive, G. Ananthapadmanaban, in a letter to Mr. Mukherjee, requested him to commute all death sentences to terms of imprisonment, halt further executions, and establish an official moratorium on executions as the first step towards abolishing the death penalty.

Referring to the execution of Mumbai terror attack convict Ajmal Kasab in a secret manner in a Pune jail on November 21, Mr. Ananthapadmanaban said that by executing himIndia had violated the internationally recognised “right to life” and had stepped away from regional and global trends towards abolition of death penalty.

As of today, 140 countries have abolished the death penalty in law or practice. Mongolia became the 140th country to join this group by becoming a state party to the ‘Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights’, that aims to abolish the death penalty, on March 13, 2012. In the Asia-Pacific region, 17 countries had abolished the death penalty for all crimes, 10 were abolitionist in practice and one — Fiji — uses the death penalty only for exceptional military crimes, he claimed.

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