Europe Abolishes Death Penalty | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 04.05.2002
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Europe Abolishes Death Penalty

The European Council has agreed that everyone’s right to life shall be protected by law. No one shall be deprived of his life, regardless of circumstances.


36 European states are against the death penalty regardless of circumstances

"Convinced that everyone’s right to life is a basic value in a democratic society and that the abolition of the death penalty is essential for the protection of this right and for the full recognition of the inherent dignity of all human beings", the European Council signed an amendment to the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights abolishing the death penalty once and for all.

From Andorra and Austria to the Ukraine and the United Kingdom, 36 members of European Council agreed on Friday to a complete abolishment of the death penalty regardless of circumstances. At a meeting in Vilnius, Lithuania, ministers for each country pledged to remove the death penalty from all their statutes including as a sentence for crimes "committed in times of war or imminent threat of war". This was the only remaining exception permitted for the death penalty in Article Two of the Convention.

Signed in 1950, the Convention outlines the fundamental human rights for all people in the European Council and the protection of these rights to be guaranteed by each member state. Originally Article Two, the Right to Life, stated that "no one shall be deprived of his life intentionally, save in the execution of a sentence of court following the conviction for a crime for which this penalty is provided by law".

Friday’s amendment to the Convention removes this final exception for capital punishment and ensures that "no one shall be condemned to such penalty or executed." European Council Secretary General Walter Schwimmer praised the amendment as "a way to remove the barbaric punishment for all circumstances".

The amendment will go into effect once at least 10 states ratify the resolution for change. So far Ireland, Malta and Switzerland have ratified the resolution. Eight member states in the 44-member Council, including Albania, Russia and Turkey, did not sign the amendment on Friday.

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