World Day against the Death Penalty - Journée mondiale contre la peine de mort
10 October 2020: Joint Declaration by EU High Representative and Council of Europe Secretary General
On the World and European Day Against the Death Penalty, the European Union and the Council of Europe reaffirm their opposition to the use of capital punishment in all circumstances and call for the universal abolition of the death penalty. We welcome the continued decline in the use of the death penalty, confirming the overall trend towards universal abolition. In 2019, for a second consecutive year, executions were carried out in only 20 countries around the world. This is a historic low, but it is nonetheless 20 countries too many. We, therefore, use this occasion to call on all Members of the United Nations to support the Resolution on a Moratorium on the Use of the Death Penalty at the 75th session of the UN General Assembly in December 2020.
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Council of Europe Campaign "Death is not Justice" 2020
The abolition of the death penalty in Europe
David Zalkaliani, Minster of Foreign Affairs of Georgia
“The capital punishment dehumanises the world and contributes to the development of a cycle of violence in society. I believe that the abolition process is irreversible. Georgia gladly joins other States to demonstrate our strong commitment to the universal abolition of the death penalty.”
Friedrich Wilhelm Wagner, former Vice President of the German Constitutional Court and politician
“It doesn‘t get any better when the state takes a person‘s life than when the owner takes it. It is, what it was, a barbarism.”
Lyubou Kavalyova, mother of Vladislav Kavalyov, executed in Belarus in 2012
Itsuko Ajima, stepmother of Yukio Ajima, executed in Japan in 1994
“Death row prisoners are only allowed visits that secure their “emotional stability”. This actually means a state of mind in which he/ she would accept his/her death. With prisoners going out of this world quietly, the authorities avoid facing the absurdity of the death penalty. People on death row should not be denied opportunities to pursue their full personal potential through communication with other people.”
Lisa Brown, mother of Christopher Vialva, executed in the United States of America in 2020
“How can you say that my son received effective counsel during his trial when the very person appointed to represent him was pursuing employment with the opposing side while representing my son at trial? We should all be very troubled by that when the effectiveness of counsel in these death penalty cases plays a major role in determining whether a person lives or dies.”
Sister Helen Prejean, Anti-death penalty activist
“Giving governments authority to kill citizens inevitably involves their biased selection of the condemned: the poor, the marginated, and those who kill citizens with social status. Mistakes in such a flawed system are inevitable. Since 1976 in the US 172 wrongly condemned prisoners have been exonerated. Make no mistake: killing conscious, imaginative human beings on a predetermined date and time is the practice of TORTURE.”
Christos Giakoumoupoulos, Directeur général des Droits de l'Homme et Etat de Droit du Conseil de l'Europe
« Imposer la peine capitale, décider qu’une personne n’est plus digne de vivre, c’est accepter qu’un être humain soit traité comme un objet. Aucune justice digne de ce nom ne peut accepter une telle approche. »
Tatiana Termacic, Head of the Coordination and international cooperation division
“Any discussion on reintroducing the death penalty is aimless. It would be contrary to international obligations and to constitutional guarantees protecting the right to life. The death penalty is a cruel and inhuman punishment, which does not contribute to a safer society. There is no place for it in Europe!”
Rik Daems, President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe
“The Council of Europe is today a death-penalty-free area and we are resolutely committed to achieving the universal abolition of capital punishment.”
Linos-Alexandre Sicilianos, Président de la Cour européenne des droits de l'homme
"Par sa jurisprudence, la Cour européenne des droits de l'homme a contribué à l’éradication de ce châtiment dans tous les États membres du Conseil de l’Europe. La Cour a été la première juridiction internationale à refuser qu’une personne ne soit renvoyée vers un pays où elle risque de subir la peine capitale."
Dunja Mijatovic, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights
"Each time a human being is executed, it's a defeat for humanity. The Council of Europe is rightly proud of being a death-penalty free-zone. State killing is the ultimate denial of human rights and is never the right choice."
Raphaël Chenuil, Directeur général de Ensemble Contre la Peine de Mort (ECPM)
"Les grands hommes et les grandes femmes de notre histoire universelle sont ceux et celles qui ont su faire l’histoire et ne pas la subir, parfois contre leurs propres opinions publiques. L’abolition de la peine de mort nécessite souvent un tel courage!"
Arman Tatoyan, Human Rights Defender of the Republic of Armenia
"Death penalty embodies weakness and retaliation. Strong societies never murder but rather help. Governments are never entitled to destroy hope for remedy by taking lives away; justice needs to be served throughly!"
Tatiana Termacic, Cheffe de la Division du Conseil de l'Europe, responsable du dossier de l’abolition
"Croyez-vous vraiment que disposer de la vie des criminels rende justice à leurs victimes et à la société dans son ensemble?"
Christos Giakoumopoulos, Directeur général des Droits de l'Homme et Etat de Droit du Conseil de l'Europe
"La société qui, de manière organisée et délibérée, retire la vie d'un homme en lui imposant la peine capitale ne fait que manifester son mépris pour la vie. Ainsi, loin d'avoir un effet dissuasif, la peine de mort, par la dévaluation de la vie qu'elle implique, encourage la violence et le crime."
Parvais Jabbar, Executive director of The Death Penalty Project
"Over 75% of the world’s nations now recognise the death penalty to be an inhuman and degrading punishment incompatible with evolving standards of decency."
Catherine Lalumière, Secrétaire générale du Conseil de l'Europe (1989-1994) et Vice-présidente du Parlement européen (2001-2004)
"Le respect des droits de l'homme est un devoir de tout État, non seulement envers son peuple mais aussi envers la communauté internationale."
Sergey Dikman, Human Rights National Implementation, Council of Europe
"Capital punishment means taking revenge, not providing justice. It adds to the cycle of violence and inflicts suffering on more innocent people – the convict’s family. It has no place in modern society."
João Goulão, President of the Pompidou Group
"It is our great responsibility to encourage countries, where there is still a capital punishment for crimes related to drugs, to abolish this inhuman practice and adopt policies that are more respectful of Human Rights."
Michelle Bachelet, Haut-commissaire des Nations unies aux droits de l'homme
"Continuer à condamner à mort alors qu’il existe toujours un risque d’erreur, même infime, est inacceptable."
Terry Davis, Secretary General of the Council of Europe (2004-2009)
"One day, in the not-too-distant future, the death penalty will be eradicated throughout the world. It may take time, but it will happen. It is an inevitable consequence of the slow but steady evolution towards ever higher standards of civilisation."
Diann Rust-Tierney, Executive Director of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, United States of America
"We’re all more than the worst thing we’ve ever done, because all human beings are capable of change. If our criminal justice system is to change, it should be designed not just to punish, but to also rehabilitate those who’ve committed crimes."
Andrei Paluda, Co-ordinator of the Campaign against the death penalty in Belarus
"From time to time, we are perceived as the devil’s advocates, but, in fact, we are working to make this world a better place. We do not aim at protecting the killer. We protect the human being."
Jean Jaures, Homme politique français (1859 -1914)
"Je crois pouvoir dire qu’elle [la peine de mort] est contraire à ce que l’humanité, depuis deux mille ans, a pensé de plus haut et a rêvé de plus noble."
Tatiana Moskalkova, High Commissioner for Human Rights in the Russian Federation
"The death penalty deprives a person of the right to challenge the sentence and to seek truth and justice. Depriving a person of life by the death penalty deprives the authorities of the opportunity to correct a possible miscarriage of justice."
Titus Corlăţean, General Rapporteur on the abolition of the death penalty, Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe
"The death penalty is always a cruel and inhuman punishment, whatever the crime, and it should no longer be applied in democratic states that respect human rights."
Robert Badinter, Garde des Sceaux et ministre de la Justice (1981-1986) et Président du Conseil constitutionnel (19866-1995), Commissaire honoraire auprès de la Commission internationale contre la peine de mort [ICDP]
"La vraie signification politique de la peine de mort, c'est bien qu'elle procède de l'idée que l'Etat a le droit de disposer du citoyen jusqu'à lui retirer la vie. C'est par là que la peine de mort s'inscrit dans les systèmes totalitaires."
Peter Schieder, President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (2002-2005)
"A growing sense of insecurity risks making us forget about human rights or at least making large concessions for what we think is in our own interest. Torturing or executing human beings can never be in our interest."
Navanethem Pillay, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (2008-2014), ICDP
"We often hear from Government leaders and politicians that abolishing the death penalty in their countries would go against the sentiments of the public. Human progress does not stand still. […] Leaders must show the way how deeply incompatible the death penalty is with human dignity."
Thorbjørn Jagland, Secretary-General of the Council of Europe (2009-2019)
"Today, none of the Council of Europe’s 47 member states carry out the death penalty. Capital punishment is prohibited under the European Convention on Human Rights, and abolition is a condition of membership. This is important to us, because death is not justice."