“Affront to human dignity” – EU and Council of Europe against death penalty

Cour européenne des droits de l'homme.JPG

European Court of Human Rights by Nicoleon (CC BY-SA 4.0), source

Tough joint position

Marking European Day against the Death Penalty (celebrated each year on October 10th), European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini and Council of Europe’s Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland published a joint declaration in which they urge countries still using the death penalty to abolish it.

According to the statement, capital punishment is “an affront to human dignity” and “constitutes cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment”. The text also stresses that death sentences make judicial errors irreversible and violate human rights, namely the right to life.

Europe – Area of Justice?

The declaration points out that all member states of both the organisations have abolished the death penalty and reiterates their will to fight for global abolishment of this form of punishment in all cases. At the same time, the statement calls countries of the European Union and the Council of Europe to take “effective measures to prevent their involvement, however indirect, in the use of the death penalty by third countries”, providing blocking the trade in goods used to carry out executions as an example of such measure.

Out of all European states, Belarus is the last which continues to use the death penalty, something the declaration did not fail to notice, encouraging the country to “align with pan-European standards”. Aside from “Europe’s last dictatorship”, there has been no execution in Europe for more than 20 years.

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