U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon says death sentences for terrorism are often handed down after unfair trials by special courts, disrespecting human rights.

Ban said Monday, in remarks marking World Day Against the Death Penalty, that maintaining the rule of law in the face of violent extremism will only boost society's ability to counter terrorist threats.

He says 65 countries retain the death penalty for terrorism-related offenses but "experience has shown that putting terrorists to death serves as propaganda for their movements by creating perceived martyrs."

He warnsagainst states that criminalize free expression through vague anti-terror measures.

Ban says, "Let us be clear: participation in peaceful protests and criticism of a government ... are neither crimes nor terrorist acts."