Geneva, Switzerland, Mar 7, 2017 / 04:17 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations reiterated the Vatican’s defense of all human life in a meeting with UN Human Rights Council on the death penalty. “My Delegation reaffirms that life is sacred ‘from conception to natural death,’ and recalls the words Pope Francis, that ‘even a criminal has the inviolable right to life,’” said Archbishop Ivan Jurkovic last Wednesday.

He cited the words of Pope Francis: “For a constitutional state the death penalty represents a failure, because it obliges a State to kill in the name of justice. But justice is never reached by killing a human being.” The archbishop also expressed concern for possible failures in human justice which may bring about the death of the wrong person.

“In this regard, one should consider that human justice is fallible and that the death penalty per se is irreversible. We should take into account that capital punishment always includes the possibility of taking the life of an innocent person.” He also said that there is “insufficient evidence that the death penalty has a deterrent effect on crime.”

Globally, recent years have seen a trend against the death penalty. Recent studies have shown a decrease in popular opinion of capital punishment. Some 80 percent of the American population favored the death penalty for convicted murders in 1995, but a 2010 poll by Lake Research Partners found that support had dropped to 39 percent. Fighting this trend is the Philippines, which is considering reinstating the death penalty, after it had been abolished in the country’s 1987 constitution.

Archbishop Jurkovic addressed the need for different avenues aimed at rehabilitation and society’s safety while also respecting life. “My Delegation believes that more humane measures are available to address crime, ensuring the victim the right to justice and giving the criminal the chance to reform,” he said.

The archbishop reemphasized the goal of ending capital punishment and said that the Vatican supports “as an interim measure, the moratoria established by the 2014 General Assembly resolution.” He ended with an encouragement for better prison conditions and fair trials, regardless of criminal status.