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Effort to curb death penalty praised

UNITED NATIONS, Oct. 10 (UPI) -- U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon praised the French government for its efforts to curb the death penalty around the world.

In a video message to the French Foreign Ministry's meeting on the death penalty, Ban said he hoped it would reinforce the emerging consensus on doing away with the practice.

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"The message for abolition is heard across legal systems, traditions, customs and religious backgrounds. It is heard in all regions," Ban said.

The meeting in France, which abolished capital punishment in 1981, is to raise awareness about it ahead of the fifth World Congress against the Death Penalty set for next June in Madrid.

France is among 150 countries that have either abolished or instituted a moratorium against capital punishment.

In 2007, the U.N. General Assembly adopted its first resolution calling for a worldwide moratorium on the death penalty. Ban said the punishment invariably entails cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.

"Application of the death penalty tends to be discriminatory," he said. "The poor, the powerless and persons belonging to minority communities are executed in disproportionate numbers."

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