Fight against death penalty – joint declaration of the Council of Europe and the European Union

Joint Council of Europe / European Union declaration to mark the European Day against the Death Penalty and the World Day against the Death Penalty - 10 October, 2010

To mark the European Day against the Death Penalty and the World Day against the Death Penalty, the Council of Europe and the European Union reaffirm their opposition to the use of capital punishment in all circumstances, and their commitment to the abolition of the death penalty worldwide.

The death penalty is cruel and inhuman, it violates human dignity and the fundamental human rights on which the two organisations are founded. Although it is sometimes held to the contrary, the death penalty has not been found to act as a deterrent. More-over, since no legal system can be guaranteed to be wholly free from error, any miscarriage of justice involving the death penalty is irreversible. For this reason we should continue to explain why capital punishment is wrong, and why future generations deserve to live in a death-penalty free world. 

Since 1997, no execution has taken place on the territory of our Member States. Although the death penalty is still not completely abolished de jure on the entire European continent, there are encouraging signs. The Council of Europe and the European Union welcomed the decision of the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation which ruled that no death sentence can be pronounced or applied in that country. We encourage the Russian Federation, as well as those other European States which have not yet abolished de jure the death penalty in all circumstances, to do so by ratifying the relevant protocols to the European Convention on Human Rights.

The Council of Europe and the European Union reiterate their condemnation of the use of the death penalty in Belarus. We will pursue our efforts to encourage Belarus to abolish capital punishment, including by the organisation of joint events in Minsk. In this respect, we welcome the decision of the authorities of Belarus to establish a parliamentary ad hoc group on capital punishment matters.

The European Day against the Death Penalty coincides with the World Day against the Death Penalty and the establishment of a death penalty-free Europe is an important step towards universal abolition. The Council of Europe and the European Union welcome the continuous increase in the number of abolitionist countries in the world. We call upon countries in Europe and worldwide to support the Resolution on a global moratorium on the use of the death penalty which will be discussed at the 65th session of the United Nations General Assembly. We also stress the importance of acting in favour of the abolition in international fora and through the action of civil society worldwide.

The Council of Europe and the European Union invite all European citizens to support the abolition of the death penalty, and thereby contribute to the development of fundamental rights and human dignity.

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