European Union External Action

The World and Europe Day Against the Death Penalty, October 10, 2020

12/10/2020 - 11:30
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As we commemorate this World Day Against the Death Penalty we reflect on the seven (7) Resolutions adopted by the UNGA since 2007 calling for a “Moratorium on the use of the death penalty.”


The UN General Assembly, since 2007, adopted seven Resolutions calling for a “Moratorium on the use of the death penalty”. A moratorium on the use of death penalty contributes to enhance the respect for human dignity and for the progressive development of human rights.  On this World Day against the Death Penalty we take note of the significant reductions in reported executions and commutations of death sentences worldwide: this world trend is a clear demonstration that this topic deserves to be discussed among UN Member States. For the case of Tanzania, since 1995 to date death penalty has not been implemented. The late President Benjamin William Mkapa in his book My Life, My Purpose: A Tanzanian President Remembers, he noted that he exercised mercy throughout his ten years as President. We have so far observed the same with the current sitting President H.E. John Pombe Magufuli throughout his term of Presidency to date.

Death penalty is still a sentence pronounced in several countries around the world. Undermining human dignity, it violates the right to life as a human right. The EU continues voicing its strong opposition to the death penalty as a cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment. Its abolition is thus essential for the progressive development of human rights. It is fair to say that the abolition of death penalty is closer than ever: more and more countries are realising that death penalty is not a reasonable option for justice. Of the 193 Member States of the United Nations, 162 have no executions for at least 10 years, 112 having abolished in law. Out of the 54 members of the African Union, 47 are not executing people over the last 10 years or more, 22 abolished death penalty in law, and over the last two years, executions took place in only five African states

In 2019, for a second consecutive year, executions were carried out in only 20 countries around the world. This is a historic low, but it is nonetheless 20 countries too many. Countries that have abolished death penalty have seen that this sentence does not deter crime nor contribute to a safer society. On the contrary, killing as a punishment perpetuates a cycle of senseless violence.

High Representative/Vice-President, Josep Borrell, said: “Today, we propose an ambitious plan to defend human rights and democracy all over the world by using all our resources faster and more effectively”. Advocating for the abolition of death penalty is not to be lenient with perpetrators of crime, it is to reject the most cruel and inhuman punishment. The EU will strongly continue to voice this position and support those promoting it around the world.

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