Resigned Lebanon justice minister calls for abolishing death penalty

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Death Penalty

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BEIRUT: Resigned Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi Wednesday praised the important strides made in Lebanon in reducing the enforcement of the death penalty and called for its complete abolition.

“It is necessary to abolish the death penalty in Lebanese legislation in line with modern laws and the desire of global public opinion, as it does not constitute a deterrent to crime,” Rifi said in Oslo, Norway, where the 6th World Congress Against The Death Penalty is being held.

The three-day international conference kicked off Tuesday. Rifi said Lebanon has on multiple times tried to replace the death penalty with hard labor for life, adding that 10 Lebanese MPs put forward the proposal in 2004 and again in 2008. He said the failure to do so came as a result of an increase in criminal activity in recent years, especially with the overall rise of violence in the Middle East.

“However ... the implementation of the Penal Code issued in 2002 awards penalty enforcement judges the authority to replace the death penalty, under a court ruling, with a prison sentence instead, given that the convict gives evidence of good conduct, compensates the victim’s family and other conditions,” Rifi added.

Although the death penalty still exists in Lebanese law, the last actual execution took place back in 2004. Hundreds of prisoners in Lebanon, many of whom are Islamists, are currently on death row.

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