1. ITV Report

Lancashire MP Nigel Evans calls for 'worldwide ban' on death penalty

Nigel Evans, MP for the Ribble Valley, has backed calls for a global ban on the death penalty.

The Conservative MP made a particular plea to the two biggest superpowers - America and China - to join the two thirds of other states in the world which have banned capital punishment.

His announcement followed the European and World day against the Death Penalty.

Call to US and China Credit: PA Pictures

Mr Evans said great strides have been made across Europe to abolish capital punishment with the only country to still exercise judicial killing being Belarus.

He said: “Fundamentally, the death penalty is a denial of a person’s right to life which is enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. To kill a person for a crime is unethical.

''What is more, there can be no certainty that a mistake has not been made in a person’s conviction. Someone wrongfully convicted can be let out of jail – they cannot be brought back from the dead.

“In 2015, over 1600 people were executed worldwide with China, Iran and Pakistan being the worst offenders. These three countries accounted for 89% of death penalty executions last year.''

The openly-gay MP, added: “But what I find to be the most outrageous injustice in all this is that the death penalty is handed out in a number of countries for acts which should never be a crime. In countries like Iran, Yemen and Sudan homosexuality can be punishable by death.

Iranian citizens demonstrate against executions in Iran in Paris on January 28, 2016, as Iranian President Hassan Rohani is in France for a two-day official visit. Credit: PA Pictures

“Not only is homosexuality not a crime, but to hand out such a punishment is grossly unjust.

This year, Hassan Afshar, an Iranian citizen, was hanged for being a gay man; he was sentenced to death for an act committed when he was a teenager. It is sickening to think that such an injustice could take place in the modern world and it must be stopped. This is abhorrent and should be condemned on every level.

“This is why I am firmly behind the Council of Europe’s campaign to end the death penalty.”

Repeated polls in the UK have shown a majority of those asked supported the return of capital punishment. The last executions here were in 1964.