1380bis Meeting of the Committee of Ministers, 8 July 2020
The EU reaffirms its strong and unequivocal opposition to the use of the death penalty at all times and under all circumstances. Capital punishment violates the inalienable right to life and is incompatible with human dignity. The death penalty does not serve as an effective deterrent to crime and makes any miscarriage of justice irreversible.
Abolition of the death penalty is a distinctive achievement in Europe, with all European Union and Council of Europe Member States having abolished it. Abolition of the death penalty in law or in practice is a prerequisite for membership of the Council of Europe and the absolute ban on the death penalty under all circumstances is inscribed in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.
The EU and the Council of Europe share a common vision of a death penalty-free European continent. We appreciate the leading role the Council of Europe has been playing and continues to play in this area. We welcome the regular six-monthly review of the situation with respect to the death penalty conducted by the Committee of Ministers and we fully support the draft decision to be adopted today. We reiterate our call on the Council of Europe Member States which have not yet ratified Protocols No 6 and 13 to the European Convention on Human Rights to do so rapidly.
The EU regrets that Belarus is the last European country which still applies the death penalty. In 2019, three death sentences were delivered, three men were executed, and there are currently four men on death row. Already in 2020, the Belarussian courts pronounced three death sentences. The EU is deeply worried by reports of violations of the right to fair trial and by the lack of transparency surrounding the use of the death penalty in Belarus.
The EU reiterates its strong call on the authorities of Belarus to establish a moratorium on executions as a first step towards its abolition and to commute all pending death sentences. In that regard, the EU welcomes the recent decision of the Supreme Court of Belarus to uphold the appeal of a prisoner on death-row. We welcome the establishment by the Parliament of Belarus of a Working Group on the Abolition of the Death Penalty in January 2020 and we call on the Belarusian authorities to engage in a dialogue with civil society with a view to advancing the ongoing reflection on capital punishment issues. We also welcome the focus on the death penalty in the Council of Europe Action Plan for Belarus 2019-2021 and call on the Belarusian authorities to fully exploit the opportunities offered by the Action Plan in this regard.
We regret that capital punishment continues to be applied in some states of the United States of America and in Japan, both observer States to the Council of Europe. Last year, 22 people were executed in seven states of the US, and three men were executed in Japan.
We welcome the decision of the State of Colorado of March 2020 to abolish the death penalty and commute the sentences of three men on death row. That decision further encourages the growing trend to abandon capital punishment in the United States, where executions and new death sentences remain near historic lows. Against this background, we are deeply concerned by the recent decision of the US Federal Government to proceed with the executions of four death-penalty inmates.
We take this opportunity to call upon the Federal Government and upon those states of the United States which still apply the death penalty and on Japan to consider establishing a moratorium on the application of capital punishment, as a first step towards its complete abolition.
Only a coordinated and continued action of each and every relevant actor, by means of all available instruments in all suitable fora, can ensure the success of our common goal: the universal abolition of capital punishment.
The following countries align with this statement: Albania, Andorra, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Republic of Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Republic of North Macedonia, Norway, San Marino, Serbia, Ukraine