The 47-nation Council of Europe and the 28-member European Union have published a joint declaration to mark the European and World Day against the Death Penalty on 10 October.
The declaration underlines the two organisations’ strong opposition to capital punishment in all circumstances.
“The death penalty is an affront to human dignity. It constitutes cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and is contrary to the right to life. The death penalty has no established deterrent effect and it makes judicial errors irreversible.” – Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland and EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini
Pending the introduction of a moratorium, the declaration calls on countries still applying the death penalty – which notably include Belarus, the only European country still using capital punishment – to commute any existing death sentences to prison terms.
It also urges Council of Europe and EU member states to avoid involvement in the use of the death penalty by third countries, for example by acting to prevent the trade in goods that could subsequently be used to carry out executions.
Through the European Convention on Human Rights, the Council of Europe has created a death penalty-free zone covering 47 countries and over 830 million people.
No executions have taken place in any Council of Europe member state for more than 20 years.