Delegation of the European Union to Tanzania

World Day against Death Penalty

Brussels, 08/10/2021 - 03:17, UNIQUE ID: 211008_1
Local Statements

Statement of the European Union and France on the occasion of the World Day against Death Penalty (10 October 2021)

On the occasion of the World Day against Death Penalty observed on 10 October, the European Union (EU), France and all EU Member States reaffirm our strong principled opposition to the use of capital punishment in all circumstances, as a cruel, inhumane and degrading punishment, and call for the universal abolition.

We welcome the continued decline in the use of the death penalty, confirming the overall trend towards universal abolition. Seventy years after the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, worldwide abolition of the death penalty is closer than ever to becoming a reality. Three quarters of the world have abolished the death penalty in law or practice. In 2020, no executions took place in 176 countries representing 91% of the 193 UN Member States. This positive trend makes even more obvious the possible flaws of justice in the execution of capital punishment. No legal system can claim to be perfect, any error in the carrying out of the death penalty represents an irreversible loss of human life.

Furthermore, numerous studies show that the death penalty does not deter serious crimes more effectively than other punishments. And its abolition does not lead to an increase in crime. It is also socially unjust, since it disproportionately affects those who have less access to proper legal representation.

We take this opportunity to remind that the beautiful and peaceful "Blue Pacific" is almost free of death penalty, with only Tonga and PNG still maintaining it in their legal systems. 

In this context the EU, France and all EU Member States welcome the fact that no death sentence has been carried out in PNG since 1954 and strongly advocate for a decisive move from the current de facto moratorium to a formal abolition. A formal moratorium could also be a welcome intermediary step towards abolition. This will be in line with the Melanesian traditions of peaceful reconciliation and forgiveness as well as with the Christian values Papua New Guineans identify with.

At the same time, we have witnessed with great concern this year in PNG the annulment of the temporary orders that have stayed the death sentence of 14 prisoners currently on death row since 2017, which might indicate that the executions could resume after 70 years. Furthermore, while we cautiously welcome the recent announcement on the appointment of a Power of Mercy Committee, which will provide an ultimate chance for clemency to the detainees on the death raw, this could also signal a further procedural move in the legal process towards the resumption of the executions, which we would unequivocally oppose.

In November this year PNG will have its third Universal Periodic Review of the UN Human Rights Council and we hope that the forthcoming recommendations will be accepted and progressively implemented.  

We also welcome the PNG Government intention to conduct a nationwide consultation on the topic of the capital punishment, which could be a major step into the right direction.

EU, France and all EU Member States are convinced that PNG, in line with its traditional values and faith, will join the majority of the international community and will gradually move towards abolishment, for a death penalty free "Blue Pacific".

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