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EU Policy on the Abolition of the Death Penalty European/World Day against the Death Penalty, 10 October 2008 DG RELEX, Unit Human Rights and Democratisation.

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Presentation on theme: "EU Policy on the Abolition of the Death Penalty European/World Day against the Death Penalty, 10 October 2008 DG RELEX, Unit Human Rights and Democratisation."— Presentation transcript:

1 EU Policy on the Abolition of the Death Penalty European/World Day against the Death Penalty, 10 October 2008 DG RELEX, Unit Human Rights and Democratisation September 2008

2 Key messages The European Union has a strong and principled position against the death penalty. The abolition of the death penalty worldwide represents one of the main objectives of the EUs human rights policy. Where the death penalty still exists, the EU calls for its use to be progressively restricted and insists that it be carried out according to international minimum standards. The EU uses all its available tools of diplomacy and cooperation assistance to work towards the abolition of the death penalty. The EU is leading institutional actor and lead donor to the efforts by civil society organizations around the world in the abolition of the death penalty.

3 Europe All EU Member States have abolished DP In terms of regional ensembles, Europe is in a unique position - only Russia has yet to formally abolish DP and only Belarus still carries out executions. Commitment under accession to Council of Europe to establish a moratorium and to ratify Protocols No 6 and 13 to the European Convention on Human Rights.

4 Global figures 137 countries have abolished the death penalty in practice or in law. 60 countries retain and use the DP, but the countries where executions are carried out is much smaller (according to Amnesty, at least 1,252 people were known to have been executed in 24 countries during 2007). In 2007, 88 per cent of all known executions took place in 5 countries - China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and the USA.

5 Global trends Trend: towards abolition. Over 50 countries have abolished the DP for all crimes since Most recently, Albania, Cook Islands, Kyrgyzstan (for ordinary crimes), Rwanda, Uzbekistan and the US State of New Jersey. Once abolished, DP is seldom reintroduced. Since 1985, only 4 abolitionist countries reintroduced DP.

6 International law Death Penalty is not prohibited under International law Its use is restricted: UN ECOSOC minimum standards; ban on execution of juvenile offenders (International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) article 6, Convention on the Rights of the Child article 37). International treaties providing for the abolition of DP: World-wide: 2nd Optional Protocol to the ICCPR (peacetime). Regional: Protocol to the American Convention on Human Rights, Protocols No 6 and 13 to the European Convention on Human Rights. International criminal law: International Criminal Court Statute and International Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda/Former Yugoslavia exclude DP from the punishments the courts are authorised to impose.

7 Arguing against the Death Penalty Imposition of the death penalty contravenes the right to life and the right not to be subjected to cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment. The death penalty does not deter crime more effectively than other punishments. Abolition of the death penalty does not lead to an increase in crime.

8 Arguing against the Death Penalty (2) Miscarriages of justice, which are inevitable in any legal system, are irreversible. Prisoners on death row can include juveniles, mentally ill or mentally retarded persons, pregnant mothers. Cruel and inhuman execution methods (e.g. stoning).

9 EU DP Guidelines Adopted in 1998 and revised in 2008, DP Guidelines form the basis for EU action. Provide criteria for making general or individual representations & outline minimum standards to be applied in countries retaining the death penalty. A policy area where there is a strong EU consensus. The EU is the only international actor to actively pursue the abolition of the DP as a policy goal.

10 EU DP Guidelines (2) State that abolition of the death penalty contributes to the enhancement of human dignity and the progressive development of human rights. Establish the EU objectives as: work towards universal abolition of the death penalty as a strongly held policy view agreed by all EU MS. Where the death penalty still exists, to call for its use to be progressively restricted and to insist that it be carried out according to minimum standards.

11 EU DP Guidelines (3) The EU to intensify its initiatives, including declarations or demarches on the DP, on international fora and towards other countries. In 2007, the EU carried out numerous demarches worldwide (on individual cases, general use of the DP, UN General Assembly action).

12 EU DP Guidelines: general demarches The EU will raise the issue of DP in its dialogue with third countries (call for abolition, or at least a moratorium) Demarche when policy of the third country is in flux/countries on the cusp campaign Demarche or public statement where countries take steps towards abolition Other initiatives may include human rights reporting, encouraging third countries to accede to international or regional instruments, raising the issue in multilateral fora, bilateral and multilateral co-operation, e.g. UN General Assembly (UNGA) Declaration 19 Dec. 2006, UNGA Resolution 18 December 2007, EU and Council of Europe initiative for the European Day against the Death Penalty (10 Oct.)

13 EU DP Guidelines: individual cases The EU does not and cannot carry out demarches on all individual cases. EU will consider a demarche only in cases which violate the UN minimum standards. Speed and facts are essential. Sources: EU missions and Delegations, international and local NGOs.

14 EU DP Guidelines: the UN minimum standards Capital punishment may be imposed only for the most serious crimes (not for example for financial crimes, religious practice, expression of conscience, sexual relations between consenting adults, or as a mandatory sentence). Capital punishment may not be imposed on: persons below 18 years of age at the time of the commission of the crime; pregnant women or new mothers; persons who have become insane.

15 EU DP Guidelines: the UN minimum standards (2) Capital punishment may be imposed only when guilt of the person charged is based upon clear and convincing evidence leaving no room for alternative explanation of the facts. Due process/Fair trial (article 14 of ICCPR). Effective right to appeal to a court of higher jurisdiction. Right to seek pardon or commutation of the sentence. Capital punishment must inflict the minimum possible suffering. It may not be carried out in public or in any other degrading manner.

16 EIDHR & Fight against DP Activities in support of the abolition of DP traditionally represent a key priority under EIDHR. Activities include: raising awareness amongst the public and key opinion makers on the principal arguments against the DP; monitoring of conditions of implementation of DP and the application of minimum international standards; legal reform to limit the use of abolish DP and the provision of legal assistance to cases of particular concern; promotion of Second Optional Protocol to ICCPR.

17 EIDHR 30 projects worldwide since 1994 for an overall budget of around 15 million. Examples: Strengthening the defence of death penalty cases (China); Support for human rights defenders campaigning for the abolition of the death penalty (worldwide); A study of how States death penalty systems comport with minimum standards designed to protect due process and fairness (USA). EIDHR : DP projects eligible under objective (2) through country-based schemes and objective (3) Support to EU Guidelines (EUR 8 million available for DP Guidelines).

18 Useful websites DG RELEX s/adp/index.htm s/adp/index.htm EuropeAid x_en.htm x_en.htm Death Penalty: Amnesty International: Human Rights Watch: Hands Off Cain: Ensemble Contre la Peine de Mort:

19 Contact points COM focal points for EU policy against the death penalty: RELEX: Maria LENSU, B1 (policy, thematic input, EIDHR programming) AIDCO: Angela DELLA PORTA, F2 (EIDHR implementation and evaluation)


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