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We welcome the Secretary General’s information (as contained in document CM/Inf(2017)23, at this moment still to be issued) and we thank the Secretary General for its presentation here today. It is indeed a hallmark achievement of this Organization, that the whole area of the Council of Europe is free of the death penalty.
The EU and all its Member States share this pride. And we share the deep conviction that the death penalty is incompatible with human rights, violates human dignity, does not deter crime and it is an inhuman, degrading and irreversible punishment. It constitutes a violation of the human rights we collectively committed ourselves to uphold. We confirm the EU’s strong and principled position against the death penalty in any circumstance and our firm commitment to work for its global abolition, using all its tools at our disposal. Abolition of the death penalty is an explicit and absolute condition to become member of the EU. All EU Member States have abolished the death penalty: this is a distinctive achievement - this is a policy area where there is a strong EU consensus. Abolition of the death penalty is also a prerequisite for membership to the Council of Europe. Reintroduction of the death penalty by any member State would be contrary to the fundamental values and obligations underlying both Organisations.
Protocol no.13 to the European Convention for Human Rights, which provides for the abolition of the death penalty in all circumstances, including in time of war or of imminent threat of war, remains a landmark, having been ratified by the large majority of the member states, including all members of the EU. We would like at this occasion to strongly appeal to member countries that have not yet done so to ratify it as a matter of priority, and we urge all members of the Council of Europe to uphold and ensure compliance with the legal and political obligations arising from their membership.
The EU and its member states regret that there is one European country, Belarus, which still applies the death penalty. This situation remains particularly serious. We reiterate our concern and we call on the Belarusian authorities to commute the existing death sentences and to establish a moratorium on executions as a first step towards abolition of capital punishment.
The EU has clearly expressed the priority it gives to the cooperation with the Council of Europe on the matter of the death penalty and welcomes the possibility of developing it further. The joint statement of EU and Council of Europe on the occasion of the World and European Day against the death penalty, once again delivered exactly one week ago, is the expression of our shared priority on this matter.
We thus consider it important to permanently evaluate how to further coordinate, complement and reinforce our common message and our action towards a common objective: the global abolition of capital punishment.
We believe that the Council of Europe has an essential role to play in this endeavour and support therefore the adoption of the draft decision before us and to continue to hold a biannual debate on this fundamental issue here at the Committee of Ministers.
In this context, we believe it would be suitable to consider the possibility of inviting a delegation and representatives of the civil society from Belarus to participate in one of the next debates to discuss the issue of death penalty in the country.
The following countries Albania, Andorra, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Iceland, Liechtenstein, the Republic of Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Norway, San Marino, Serbia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and Ukraine align themselves with this statement.