The EU & the Death Penalty
The European Union is founded on the principles of liberty, democracy and respect for human rights, common values across all 28 Member States. In tandem with this, the EU has a clearly stated policy goal of achieving the universal abolition of the death penalty.
The death penalty is part of the EU's drive to garner more respect for human rights across the globe, either by encouraging states to move towards abolition or a more immediate moratorium. In countries where the death penalty is still used the EU pushes for a set of minimum standards to be used in order to uphold human dignity. These include:
- Only imposing the death penalty for the most serious of crimes
- Not imposing the death penalty on anyone under the age of 18
- Making sure there is a clear and convincing trial where the defendant received legal assistance
- The right to appeal to a higher jurisdiction
- Carrying out punishment that inflicts the minimum amount of suffering.
The EU uses several approaches to promote abolition, including general and specific demarches, human rights reports, encouraging countries to adopt the second protocol on the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and other initiatives, such as promoting cooperation to establish a judicial system that is fair and non-discriminatory.
Global campaign against the death penalty
The “European Day against the Death Penalty” has been co-sponsored by the EU since 2008, and coincides with World Day against the Death Penalty on 10 October every year.
The EU, with growing support from nations across the globe, has co-sponsored resolutions at the United Nations General Assembly calling for the end of the death penalty, (In December 2014, the resolution was passed with a record 117 votes in favour) showing the global trend away from the use of capital punishment.
More than two-thirds of countries around the world have formally abolished capital punishment or have stopped applying it. Even in the United States, the number of states that no longer carry out the death penalty has risen. The trend is also a regional one – Mongolia abolished the death penalty in 2012, following a two-year moratorium on executions.
Japan is one of the countries which has yet to abolish the death penalty, and the EU continues to encourage Japan to join the community of nations which are moving away from using capital punishment.
Japanese language pamphlet on the EU and the Death Penalty: 「EUは死刑制度のない世界を求めています」