2013 edition

  • Joint Declaration by the Secretary General of the Council of Europe and the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy

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.

2012 edition

  • Joint Declaration by Thorbjørn Jagland, Secretary General of the Council of Europe, and Catherine Ashton, European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy

Capital punishment is inhumane and unnecessary. Experience has also shown that it does not serve as a deterrent to crime. No legal system is flawless; any miscarriage of justice could lead to the tragic loss of an innocent life.

Abolition of the death penalty throughout Europe, and beyond, is an objective common to all our member states. No execution has taken place in our member states in the last fifteen years.

The European Union and the Council of Europe encourage all European States which have not yet abolished the death penalty de jure under all circumstances, to do so by ratifying the relevant protocols to the European Convention on Human Rights. (more...)

  • Declaration of the Committee of Ministers

On this 10 October 2012, European and World Day against the death penalty, and in support of the joint statement of Mr Thorbjørn Jagland, Secretary General of the Council of Europe and Ms Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the European Union for foreign affairs and security policy, the Committee of Ministers wishes to reaffirm its unequivocal opposition to the death penalty, in all places and in all circumstances.

It welcomes the fact that no more executions are carried out on the territory of the member States of the Council of Europe. It encourages countries which still apply the death penalty, including those holding observer status with the Council of Europe, to immediately apply a moratorium on executions as a first step towards abolition.

The Committee of Ministers calls on all countries in Europe and beyond to support the Resolution on a moratorium on the use of the death penalty which will be put to vote at the 67th session of the United Nations General Assembly in December 2012.

The declaration was adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 10 October 2012 at the 1152nd meeting of the Ministers' Deputies.