“The death penalty has no place in the 21st century,” UN Secretary-General António Guterres said this on Tuesday at an event at the UN Headquarters in New York.

Some countries including Nigeria have death penalties for certain crimes, but the UN sees it as an old practice that must be abandoned.

He wants all countries which have not forbidden the extreme practice of death penalty to urgently stop executions as the death penalty had done little to deter crimes. 

Guterres spoke alongside Andrew Gilmour, Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights.

He welcomed that some 170 countries have either abolished death penalty and put a moratorium on its use, most recently, Gambia and Madagascar.

Guterres added that executions in 2016 were down 37% compared to that of 2015.

The UN chief, however, added that at present just 4 countries accounted for 875 of all recorded executions.

He also expressed concern that the countries that continued executions were also failing to meet their international obligations, in relation to transparency and compliance with international human rights standards.

“Some governments conceal executions and enforce an elaborate system of secrecy to hide who is on death row, and why.”

Guterres said lack of transparency showed a lack of respect for the human rights of those sentenced to death and to their families as well as damaging administration of justice more.

He urged nation-states that had abolished death penalty to lend their voices to the call on the leaders of those countries that retained it.

According to him, this is to establish an official moratorium with a view to abolition as soon as possible.

In Nigeria, the increase in the kidnapping has forced some states to attach death penalty  the crime seen as trade for some unemployed young persons.

Edo and Lagos State are few of the states that adopted death penalty for the crime of late.

Methods of executions include hanging and shooting and some capital crimes are murder, terrorism-related offenses, rape, armed robbery and kidnapping.