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UN Rights Chief Criticizes Jordan Reviving Death Penalty

FILE - Jordan's Prince Zeid Ra'ad Zeid al-Hussein, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, gestures after a news conference at the United Nations European headquarters in Geneva, October 2014.

The U.N. human rights chief is decrying the resumption of capital punishment in his home country of Jordan. The kingdom ended an eight-year moratorium Sunday by executing 11 men convicted of capital crimes.

High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said crime rates are not lowered by executions, and with what he called "tragic frequency," executed prisoners are later proven innocent.

He also criticized Pakistan for resuming executions last week in the wake of a Taliban massacre at a school.

The Jordan Times reports the death penalty was reinstated as “a deterrent" to what a government spokesman says is an increasing number of killings in the country. He also cited public demand and Islamic law for the decision.

The U.N. General Assembly last week adopted a non-binding resolution for an international moratorium on the death penalty, with a record number of 117 states in favor. About 160 countries have abolished capital punishment or do not practice it, according to the United Nations.

Human rights groups in Jordan and abroad criticized the hangings. They were the first executions in the country since 2006.

On Sunday, Jordan's National Center for Human Rights asked the government to consider signing a protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights that seeks to abolish the death penalty.