HRW warns Lebanon against bringing back death penalty

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Human Rights Watch has urged Lebanon to respect its moratorium on the death penalty after calls for its reinstatement following the murder of a young student that shocked the country.

Capital punishment is legal in Lebanon, but there has been an effective moratorium in place since 2004, without any executions carried out despite judgements to that effect.

"Ending its moratorium on executions would only serve to tarnish Lebanon's human rights record," HRW said in a statement.

On Friday, Interior Minister Nuhad Mashnuq called for the "reintroduction of the death penalty", in particular for "intentional crimes".

His remarks came in response to the murder of Roy Hamouche, a 24-year-old student, who was reportedly shot dead after a traffic dispute a week ago.

According to the details of the investigation cited in the media, his car had slightly hit another, enraging the three assailants.

Hi s murder is the latest in a growing number of people killed on the street or in broad daylight in Lebanon, often for minor reasons.

"Once again, political pressure is growing for Lebanon to resume executions," said Human Rights Watch.

"A resumption of executions would constitute a troubling setback for Lebanon, without making the country safer or deterring crime," the London-based watchdog said.

Instead of resuming executions, "parliament should solidify Lebanon's position as a leader on this issue in the Middle East, and abolish the death penalty outright."

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