10 October 2012 – Today the European Union (EU) marks the 10th anniversary of World and European Day against the Death Penalty.
Today there is a worldwide trend towards the abolition of the death penalty; between 1993 and 2012, the number of countries that abolished the death penalty by law for all crimes grew from 55 to 97. Moreover, as of December 2011, 141 countries – more than 2/3 of all countries – were abolitionist in law or practice.
EU leads in the fight against the death penalty
The EU is one of the leading institutional actors in the fight against the death penalty worldwide and its universal abolition is one of the key objectives of EU external human rights policy.
The EU considers capital punishment to be a cruel and inhumane punishment, which fails to provide deterrence to criminal behaviour and represents an unacceptable denial of human dignity and integrity. One must not forget that any miscarriage of justice – which is inevitable in any legal system – is irreversible in that matter.
The EU works towards the abolition of the death penalty, if necessary with the establishment of a moratorium as a first step. Where the death penalty still exists, the EU calls for its use to be progressively restricted and insists that it be carried out according to international minimum standards.
EU support to the abolition of the death penalty
In 2011, the EU issued statements on numerous individual death penalty cases and carried out demarches and other measures regarding individual cases.
The European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR) is currently allocating over €7 million to 9 abolitionist civil society projects worldwide.
In addition, the EU is the first regional body to have adopted rules prohibiting trade in goods used for capital punishment (or torture and ill-treatment), as well as on the supply of technical assistance related to such goods (source: European Commission Press Release).
UN General Assembly Resolution on the Moratorium against the death penalty
The EU fully supports a UN General Assembly draft resolution (to be adopted by December 2012) that calls for the establishment of a moratorium on the use of executions with the view of abolishing the death penalty.
Statements on 2012 World and European Day against the Death Penalty
In their joint declaration, Thorbjørn Jagland, Secretary General of the Council of Europe, and Catherine Ashton, European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, urged all countries which still retain the death penalty to immediately apply a moratorium on executions as a first step towards abolition, and called on all countries to support the UN General Assembly Resolution on a global moratorium on the use of the death penalty.
In his press release, President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, stated: “The European Parliament has been, and will continue to be, at the forefront in the fight for the abolition of the death penalty worldwide. I call on all states that still resort to the death penalty to give up this inhumane and cruel punishment and embrace the abolitionist movement.”
Source: European Union @ United Nations