10 October - European Day against the Death Penalty

The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe decided on 26 September 2007, to declare a ''European Day against the Death Penalty,'' which is held annually on 10 October.

The Council of Europe has been a pioneer in the abolition process which has made Europe a de facto death-penalty-free zone since 1997.

The day is a European contribution to the World Day against the Death Penalty, which is held annually on the same day.

Joint Council of Europe/EU declaration

Strasbourg, 09.10.2013 – The Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Thorbjørn Jagland, and the European Union's High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton, have issued a joint declaration to mark the 7th European Day against the Death Penalty (10 October).

In the declaration, Secretary General Jagland and High Representative Ashton reiterate their strong opposition to the use of capital punishment, underling its inhumane and cruel nature and its failure to prevent crime.

Encouraged by the growing momentum towards worldwide abolition, they nevertheless state that the resumption of executions in different parts of the world and voices in favour of the death penalty – including in Europe – show the continuing need to spell out why it runs contrary to the right to life and human dignity.

Welcoming important recent steps towards abolition at the international level, they call on all European countries to legally abolish the death penalty in all circumstances and regret the continuous use of capital punishment in Belarus – the only European country still to do so.

Notes

1. The Council of Europe's Committee of Ministers declared 10 October as the annual "European Day against the Death Penalty" in September 2007 as a European contribution to the World Day against the Death Penalty on the same date. The European Day against the Death Penalty has been co-sponsored by the European Union since 2008.

2. Protocol No. 6 to the European Convention on Human Rights outlaws the use of the death penalty in peacetime. It has so far been ratified by 46 out of the 47 Council of Europe member states. Russia, which currently has a moratorium in place on the use of capital punishment, signed the protocol in 1997 but has yet to ratify it.

3. Protocol No 13. to the convention extends the ban to cover the use of the death penalty in all circumstances, including in wartime. Of the 47 Council of Europe countries, only Azerbaijan and Russia have yet to sign the protocol. Armenia signed it in 2006, but has yet to ratify it. Poland recently passed legislation which will enable ratification in the near future.

4. The right to life is enshrined in Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights. A factsheet on relevant case law from the European Court of Human Rights is available here.

5. The full text of the joint declaration by Thorbjørn Jagland and Catherine Ashton to mark this year's European and World Day against the Death Penalty is available here.