World Day against the Death Penalty: abolition is a precondition for membership of the Council of Europe

Declaration adopted by the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights on the occasion of the 14th World Day against the Death Penalty (10 October 2016)

 

"On the occasion of the 14th World Day against the Death Penalty (10 October 2016), the Committee reaffirms its commitment to the right to life and reiterates that the death penalty is cruel, inhuman and degrading and that its abolition is a precondition for membership of the Council of Europe.

Although almost two-thirds (140) of the countries in the world have abolished the death penalty in law or have no longer applied it for at least 10 years, progress is still incomplete here. Within the Council of Europe itself, Russia has not abolished the death penalty in law, although it has not been applied since the country joined the organisation. In the case of the observer states, the Committee very much regrets that executions are still carried out in the United States and Japan and that the death penalty is still in the Israeli Criminal Code.

At the same time, the Committee strongly condemns the executions carried out in Belarus this year and the recent decisions by the country’s courts concerning the implementation of the death penalty and underlines that its use is continuing to hinder the establishment of closer ties between Belarus and our organisation.

The Committee also urges the parliaments which hold partner for democracy status with the Assembly (those of Jordan, Morocco and the Palestinian Authority) – to be more involved in bringing about the total abolition of the death penalty in their countries.

This 14th World Day against the Death Penalty is focusing on its application for terrorism-related offences. The Committee stresses that efforts to combat terrorism must be in full compliance with human rights, that the application of the death penalty against terrorists is not dissuasive and that it does not put an end to violence.

We must therefore keep up the fight to bring about the universal abolition of this inhumane punishment and oppose any attempt to reintroduce it. Members of national parliaments should make greater efforts here and raise the issue in public debates and in their bilateral relations with other states which have not abolished the death penalty, while providing more support for civil society organisations working in this area."