India: Execution of perpetrators of Delhi gang rape is an affront to rule of law and does not improve access to justice for women

The ICJ condemned the execution today of four men who were convicted of raping and murdering a 23-year-old student in December 2012.

The ICJ denounced the executions, and urged the Indian Government to abolish the death penalty. It called on the Government to introduce systemic changes to the legal system that would deter violence and improve access to justice for women.

“State-sanctioned executions are little more than public theatre that risk celebrating and perpetuating violence at the expense of the rule of law,” said Frederick Rawski, ICJ Asia-Pacific Director. “As heinous as these crimes were, the imposition of the death penalty – the deterrent effect of which has been widely debunked – does nothing to improve the lives of women.”

According to senior lawyer Vrinda Grover, a renowned Indian human rights defender, “In 2013, the criminal laws were amended; however seven years later the graph of rapes has not diminished.”

Instead of compelling the state to invest in plugging the gaps in the investigation, prosecution and adjudication of sexual crimes and formulating victim oriented processes, the clamour for execution of the convicts has hijacked the discourse. Seven years later, the power of the state to extinguish life stands entrenched, while women and girls in India continue to struggle to live a life of freedom, safety and dignity, as equal persons, ” said Vrinda Grover.

The UN Human Rights Committee has stated that “[t]he death penalty cannot be reconciled with full respect for the right to life, and abolition of the death penalty is both desirable and necessary for the enhancement of human dignity and progressive development of human rights.”

The ICJ opposes capital punishment in all cases without exception as a violation of right to life and to freedom from cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment.

The ICJ called upon the Indian Government to join the large majority of States and take immediate steps to end the practice of capital punishment, as prescribed by repeated United Nations General Assembly Resolutions.

To download the full statement with background information, click here.


Maitreyi Gupta, ICJ India Legal Adviser, t: +91 77 560 28369 e: maitreyi.gupta(a)

Frederick Rawski, ICJ Asia-Pacific Director, t: +66 64 478 1121; e: frederick.rawski(a)

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ICJ, Press Release, September 2013 – India: Executing perpetrators of Delhi Gang Rape Case ‘counterproductive to preventing sexual violence’

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