Statement of the President and Vice-President on the prosecution of two IS fighters

For over 60 years, the Methodist Church has supported the ending of the death penalty. Judicial systems are inherently a human construction with frailties.  The death penalty does not allow for miscarriages of justice nor the possibility of repentance.

The UK Government is both right and morally courageous when opposing the death penalty in all places and all circumstances. For many years the UK has worked with other governments to establish moratoria on the use of the death penalty.  This has helped make significant progress towards the long-term goal of the abolition of the death penalty worldwide. 

Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh are believed to have been involved in the murder of Islamic State captives.  These murders are abhorrent and those behind them show no respect for human dignity. 

Yet even in the most difficult of cases, our nation’s commitment to human rights and dignity – including opposition to the death penalty - should remain steadfast.  Terrorists who have shown no respect for the law should nevertheless be treated with equal rights under the law.  We cannot assist prosecutions that might end with an order for execution.

Governments need to act together to counter terrorism.  Those responsible for terrorist offences must be brought to justice, but we must not allow their evil actions and warped ideology to undermine the value our nation places on human rights for all.