Human Rights | 01.02.2007
EU Lawmakers Press for Worldwide Ban of Death Penalty
Ratcheting up European efforts to ban the death penalty around the world, EU lawmakers on Thursday called for immediate action to secure international support for the bid.
A universal moratorium aimed at abolishing the death penalty worldwide should be established "immediately and unconditionally," European parliamentarians said in a resolution.
They added that Germany, which currently holds the agenda-setting EU presidency, must act urgently and submit a resolution for such decree to the United Nations assembly.
"The abolition of the death penalty contributes to the enhancement of human dignity and to the progressive development of human rights," European deputies said.
A cruel and inhumane punishment
During debate on Wednesday, the EU said that it would continue to oppose capital punishment "in all cases and under all circumstances" because it considers the death penalty to be a "cruel and inhumane punishment."
The 27-member bloc also said the death penalty, which is banned in Europe, had no deterring effect in preventing crime.
In addition, "any miscarriage or failure of justice is irreversible, when, in a cruel and inhumane way, the punishment deprives one of his or her right to life," the German EU presidency said in a statement.
Respecting human rights
It also pointed out that the fight against terrorism was no reason or justification for introducing or restoring the death penalty.
"Terrorism can be combated most effectively by adhering strictly to international law and respecting human rights," the EU said.
Asked about European plans to submit an anti-death penalty resolution to the UN assembly, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said at a recent visit to EU headquarters that he was "encouraging the trend to phase out the death penalty."
Past attempts to ban capital punishment at the UN level have failed and have been used by death penalty proponents as evidence that the international community is unable to make a decisive stand on the subject.
Human rights watchdog Amnesty International says that, in 2005, at least 2,148 people were executed in 22 countries and at least 5,186 people were sentenced to death in 53 states worldwide.
Some 94 percent of all known executions took place in China, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United States.
China is leading the list with 1,770 executions, according to Amnesty. Iran executed at least 94 people, Saudi Arabia at least 86 and the United States 60 people.