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10 October 2022, Europe and World Day Against the Death Penalty: Joint Statement by the High Representatives Representing the European Union and the Secretary-General of the Council of Europe

On the occasion of Europe and World Day Against the Death Penalty, the European Union (EU) and the Council of Europe reiterate their firm opposition to the death penalty at all times, everywhere and in all circumstances.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the entry into force of Protocol 13 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) on the abolition of the death penalty in all circumstances. We commend all Council of Europe Member States (including all EU Member States) for abolishing the death penalty in all circumstances and congratulate the last two Member States of the Council of Europe who have not yet acceded to this Protocol. call to Armenia and Azerbaijan – Do so without delay.

The steady decline worldwide in the number of states still using the death penalty confirms the global trend to abandon this cruel, inhuman and ineffective punishment. A small number of 18 states, 9% of the total number of UN member states, are still carrying out executions in 2021. We urge these states to introduce a moratorium on the death penalty as a first step towards abolishing it.

The EU and the Council of Europe strongly condemn the recent death sentence in the occupied Ukrainian city of Donetsk. We stress that these judgments are inconsistent with both European human rights law and international law, including the Geneva Conventions, and welcome with relief the release of the sentenced individuals. Equally, we deplore the politically motivated reform of the Penal Code in Belarus and, with the ultimate aim of targeting political dissent, extend the death penalty to “attempted acts of terrorism” and call the authorities to this end. Request that the decision be reversed. We also call on countries such as Singapore, Iran and Saudi Arabia, which have recently seen an increase in the number of executions, to join the global trend and abandon the use of this inhumane punishment.

The EU and the Council of Europe commend Kazakhstan for ratifying the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which aims to abolish the death penalty worldwide. We also commend Papua New Guinea, Central African Republic and Equatorial Guinea for abolishing the death penalty this year.

Inhuman and degrading treatment is inherent in the death penalty. Death row inmates contribute to the long-term physical and psychological decline of human health. As has long been recognized in decisions of the European Court of Human Rights, the mental anguish of anticipating execution and the brutal methods of execution used are contrary to Article 3 of the ECHR.

Finally, the EU and the Council of Europe encourage all countries to join the Global Alliance for Torture-Free Trade, launched in 2017. The alliance currently involves 62 countries that have committed to restricting trade in goods used to carry out torture and executions.

The death penalty is an inhuman and degrading treatment contrary to human dignity. It does not act as a deterrent to crime. No legal system is safe from judicial errors that can cost innocent lives. We will not stop defending until the death penalty is no longer applied.