Local EU Statement on the death penalty in the United States and Belarus delivered during the 1353rd Meeting of the Committee of Ministers (11 September 2019):
The EU is deeply concerned by the latest developments regarding the death penalty in the United States of America and in Belarus.
On 25 July, the US Department of Justice announced that the Federal Government will resume capital punishment after a de facto moratorium of 16 years. Five executions have been scheduled for December 2019 and January 2020.
The European Union regrets this decision which contradicts the growing trend to eliminate capital punishment both in the United States, an observer State of the Council of Europe, and in the world, where two thirds of countries have already abolished the death penalty, or respect a moratorium on executions, be it by law or de facto.
On 30 July, the Vitebsk Regional Court in Belarus sentenced to death Viktar Paulau after finding him guilty of double murder.
The European Union condemns this decision and reiterates that there is no place for death penalty in Europe. The European Union and the Council of Europe share a common vision of a death-penalty-free European continent. The EU expects more action to be taken against the death penalty in Belarus, primarily within the framework of the existing cooperation between Belarus and Council of Europe and this issue will therefore remain a high priority of this organization.
The EU reaffirms its principled position against the death penalty at all times and in all circumstances. The death penalty violates the inalienable right to life and constitutes a cruel affront to human dignity. The EU recalls that the death penalty does not serve as an effective deterrent to crime and makes any miscarriage of justice irreversible.
We thus call on both countries to commute remaining death sentences and to establish a moratorium on executions as a first step towards full abolition.