Abolish death sentence: Britain

Perth, Oct 28: Even as death penalty has become a major subject of debate in India, Britain wants death sentence to be abolished across the Commonwealth, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said here.

‘As a country we are a longstanding opponent of the death penalty. We know this won’t be easy but we are encouraged by the progress there has been, such as in Trinidad and Tobago this year where mandatory death penalty sentences for felony murder were ruled unconstitutional,’ a statement quoted him as saying.

Hague said Britain wants to see the death penalty abolished throughout the Commonwealth.

He made the remark at the Commonwealth People’s Forum Thursday.

The Commonwealth comprises 54 countries, including India, where over 300 people are said to be waiting on death row, many of whom have sent mercy petitions to the president.

The main opposition party, the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP), wants many of these people, including one who was convicted for an attack on the Indian parliament in 2001, hanged as early as possible.

Hague went on to say that Britain would like to see the Commonwealth do more to promote the rights of its lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender citizens.

‘It is wrong in our view that these groups continue to suffer persecution, violence and discrimination within the Commonwealth and that many members still have laws criminalising homosexuality,’ a statement quoted him as saying.

Hague is in Perth where the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) was declared open by Queen Elizabeth II Friday.

IANS