20 July 2015: Lord Faulkner of Worcester asked Her Majesty’s Government what progress they have made in securing the worldwide abolition of the death penalty.
The Earl of Courtown (Con): My Lords, during the last Parliament, the Government worked with partners, notably the Swiss Government and experts such as the Death Penalty Project and the all-party parliamentary group, to promote global abolition. This policy was successful. In 2014, only 22 countries executed, while 140 were abolitionists. We will continue to raise death penalty cases abroad. The Diplomatic Service will make the practical and moral cases against the death penalty to retentionist countries.
Lord Faulkner of Worcester (Lab): My Lords, the Government’s continued commitment to the abolition of the death penalty is very welcome, but the Minister will be aware that some countries pose particular problems. Perhaps I may ask particularly about Iran, much in the news lately because of the welcome news about the signing of the deal on its nuclear programme. Is he aware that, according to Amnesty International, around 743 people were executed in Iran last year, most in secret, including juvenile offenders, drug offenders and political activists? That is probably more per head of the population than in any other country in the world. Can he give an assurance that, as UK-Iranian relations develop, Foreign Office officials will take every opportunity to demand improvements in Iran’s human rights record and that the barbarous use of the death penalty on such a grotesque scale comes to an end?