Abolition of the death penalty: Legal Affairs Committee draws up a situation report

The Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights today drawn up a situation report on the abolition of the death penalty in Council of Europe member and observer states, Belarus and countries whose parliaments have co-operation status.

The information note prepared by the general rapporteur on the abolition of the death penalty, Titus Corlatean (Romania, SOC), underlines that there are currently 106 countries that have completely abolished the death penalty. These include virtually all the Council of Europe member States, along with Assembly observers Canada and Mexico and Kyrgyzstan, whose parliament has Partner for Democracy status with the Assembly. Eight states have abolished the death penalty for ordinary crimes only, including Israel (an Assembly observer) and Kazakhstan, and twenty-eight provide for the death penalty in their legislation but do not implement it, including Morocco (whose parliament has Partner for Democracy status) and the Russian Federation (all these 36 states are abolitionist in practice).

This means that, in all, 142 states, i.e. more than two thirds of the whole world, have abolished the penalty in law or in practice. Lastly, there are 56 states that carry it out (retentionist states), including the US and Japan (both Council of Europe observer states), Belarus and Palestine (whose legislative council has Partner for Democracy status).

The rapporteur concludes that, by and large, the global trend is towards less and less use of the death penalty. "This abolitionist trend is even more pronounced in Europe, where it is driven by the Council of Europe, and in neighbouring countries, but there is still work to be done", since within Council of Europe member states, there are still some calls for the restoration of capital punishment.

According to the rapporteur, the Assembly, which has helped turn Europe into death penalty free continent, by making a moratorium on executions and a commitment to abolition a condition for accession to the Council of Europe, "will not accept any backsliding on this question. Reintroducing the death penalty would purely and simply be incompatible with a state’s continuing membership of the Council of Europe".