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European Parliament cites Kentucky in resolution against the death penalty

In reiterating “its long-standing opposition to the death penalty in all cases and under all circumstances,” the European Parliament’s resolution on the World Day Against the Death Penalty welcomed Kentucky’s de facto death penalty moratorium. The hiatus–since ended–was the result of a 2009 Kentucky Supreme Court decision that the state’s lethal injection and electrocution protocols were not legal.

Follow the jump for the entire resolution.

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the Protocol n° 6 to the Convention for the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms concerning the abolition of the death penalty of 28 April 1983,

–   having regard to the second Optional Protocol to the to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty of 15 December 1989,

–   having regard to its previous resolutions, on the abolition of the death penalty in particular these adopted by the EP on 26 April 2007 on the need for an immediate moratorium on executions in those countries where the death penalty is still applied,

–   having regard to the previous resolutions of the EP in particular those on minority rights and application of death penalty in China of 26 April 2009; on the death penalty in Nigeria of 20 November 2008; on executions in Libya of 17 June 2010; on the situation in the Korean Peninsula of 8 July 2010 and on Iran of 22 October 2009, 10 February 2010 and 8 September 2010,

–   having regard to United Nations General Assembly Resolution 62/149 of 18 December 2007 calling for a moratorium on the use of the death penalty, and the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 63/168 calling on the implementation of the 2007 General Assembly resolution 62/149 adopted by the UNGA on 18 December 2008,

–   having regard to UN Secretary General report on moratoriums on the use of the death penalty of 11 August 2010,

–   having regard to the UN Secretary General report on the question of the death penalty of 16 July 2010,

–   having regard to the speech of the High Representative/VP of the Commission delivered in the plenary of 16 June 2010 on the Human Rights policy recalling that the abolition on death penalty world wide was a priority for the EU,

–   having regards to the declaration by EP President Jerzy Buzek of 19 October 2009 expressing a strong appeal for the abolition of capital punishment,

–   having regard to the final declaration adopted by the 4th World Congress against the Death Penalty, held in Geneva from 24 to 26 February 2010, which calls for universal abolition of the death penalty,

–   having regard to the revised and updated version of the EU Guidelines on the Death Penalty, adopted by the Council on 16 June 2008,

–   having regard to the World Day against Death Penalty and the establishment of a European Day against the Death Penalty on 10 October each year,

–   having regard to Article 2 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union,

–   having regard to Rule 110(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

A. whereas the European Union is strongly committed to working towards the abolition of the death penalty everywhere and is striving to achieve universal acceptance of this principle,

B.  whereas the EU is the leading institutional actor in the fight against the death penalty worldwide and its action in this area represents a key priority of its external human rights policy; whereas the EU is at the same time the leading donor to the efforts by civil society organizations around the world in the abolition of the death penalty,

C. whereas the death penalty is the ultimate cruel an inhuman and degrading punishment which violates the right to life as declared in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and an act of torture unacceptable to States respecting human rights,

D. whereas various studies have shown that death penalty has no effect on trends in violent crime,

E.  whereas evidence shows that the death penalty first and foremost affects underprivileged people,

F.  whereas the provisions of Protocol No. 6 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms prohibit Council of Europe Member States from applying the death penalty,

G. whereas the EU works towards moratoria of the application of the death penalty by third country and, in due course, abolition and ratification of the relevant international UN and other instruments and in particular, the second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which provides for the abolition of the death penalty,

H. whereas the abolition of the death penalty is one of the thematic priorities for assistance under the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR), which since 1994 funded over 30 projects worldwide, with an overall budget of over €15 million,

I.   whereas after the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty, the EP has to give its consent to the conclusion of trade agreements, and in general, to international agreements with third countries,

J.   whereas the Statute of the International Criminal Court, along with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, the Special Court for Sierra Leone, the Special Panels for Serious Crimes in Dili, Timor-Leste, and the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, excludes the death penalty for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocides, the most serious crimes of concern to the international community over which they have jurisdiction,

K. whereas in 2007 and 2008 the UN General Assembly has adopted the historic resolutions 62/149 and 63/168 which call for a worldwide moratorium on executions and ultimately seek the abolishment of the death penalty, and in this regard highlights the fact that the number of countries in support of this resolution has increased and thus, that resolution 63/169 was adopted with an overwhelming majority of 106 in favour, 46 against and 34 abstentions,

L.  whereas the Fourth World Congress Against the Death Penalty, which met in Geneva in February 2010, appealed to the de facto abolitionist states to abolish the death penalty by statute, the abolitionist states to incorporate the topic of universal abolition into their international relations, and international and regional organizations to support universal abolition through the adoption of resolutions for a moratorium on executions,

M. whereas 154 States in the world have abolished the death penalty de jure or de facto, of which 96 States abolished it for any offence, 8 keep it only for exceptional crimes such as those committed in wartime, 6 have a moratorium on executions in place and 44 are de facto abolitionist (i.e. countries that have not carried out any executions for at least 10 years or countries which have binding obligations not to use the death penalty),

N. whereas more than 100 countries that retain the death penalty for crimes have outlawed the execution for juvenile offenders but stressing that a small number of countries continue to execute child offenders in flagrant violation of the international law, and in particular of Art 6(5) of the ICCCPR; stressing, in particular, that Iran detained the highest rates of minors,

O. whereas there are currently dozens of confirmed European nationals on death row or facing capital punishment around the world and stressing in this regard the crucial need to consolidate and strengthen the European response to the potential execution of European nationals,

P.  whereas on 23 March 2010 the President of the State Duma of the Russian Federation, Boris Gryzlov, at a meeting in Moscow with members of the Monitoring Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, said that Russia had failed to ratify the Sixth Protocol to the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, concerning the abolition of the death penalty, in view of terrorist threats in the country,

Q. welcoming that on 11 February 2010 the Parliament of Kyrgyzstan adopted the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, concerning the abolition of the death penalty, and on 21 May 2010 the final draft of the Constitution, which prohibits, inter alia, the death penalty and which has now been adopted, was made public by the interim Government of Kyrgyzstan,

R.  whereas 43 countries worldwide(1) retain the death penalty and the highest number of executions took place in China, Iran and Iraq; whereas China alone carried out about 5 000 or 88% of the world total of executions; Iran put at least 402 people to death and Iraq at least 77,

S.  whereas Iran is still applying death penalty by stoning this is in contradiction with the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,

T.  whereas the Presidential Council of Iraq has recently ratified the death sentences of at least 900 prisoners, including women and children,

U. noting that both the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and the European Union have repeatedly urged Belarus to abolish the death penalty; whereas that details about the death penalty in Belarus are secret and that, according to the Criminal Executive Code, the death penalty is carried out in private by means of shooting, the administration of the detention facility informs the judge about the executions and the judge informs the relatives; the body of an executed person is not given for burial to his or her relatives and the place of burial is not communicated,

V. whereas 38 states out of the 50 which make up the United States of America, have the death penalty, although 4 of them have not held executions since 1976; whereas in 2009, executions increased to 52 following the termination of a de facto moratorium in force from September 2007 to May 2008 although for the seventh consecutive year, the number of death sentences in the United States of America decreased to 106,

W. welcoming the fact that some states, including Montana, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina and Kentucky have moved against the death penalty through measures including a moratorium on executions or its abolition while condemning the executions of Teresa Lewis in the State of Virginia and of Holly Wood of Alabama despite evidence that both of them were mentally retarded persons, and stressing the cases on Mumia Abu-Jamal on death row in Pennsylvania and of Troy Davis in Georgia,

1.  Reiterates its long-standing opposition to the death penalty in all cases and under all circumstances and emphasises once again that abolition of the death penalty contributes to the enhancement of human dignity and the progressive development of human rights;

2.  Condemns all executions wherever they take place; strongly calls on the EU and its Member States to enforce the implementation of the UN resolution on a universal moratorium on executions with a view to total abolition in all states which still practise the death penalty; calls on the Council and the Commission to take action in order to progressively restrict its use while insisting that it be carried out according to international minimum standards;

3.  Urges the EU uses all its available tools of diplomacy and cooperation assistance to work towards the abolition of the death penalty;

4.  Calls upon States applying the death penalty to declare an immediate moratorium on executions; further encourages countries such as China, Egypt, Iran, Malaysia, Sudan, Thailand and Vietnam to issue official statistics concerning the use of the death penalty in these countries;

5.  Encourages the States that have not abolished the death penalty to respect safeguards protecting the rights of those facing the death penalty, as laid down in the United Nations Economic and Social Council Safeguards; Calls on the Council and the Commission to encourage those remaining countries which have not signed and ratified the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to do so, and those Member States that have not signed Protocol No 13 to the European Convention on Human Rights on the death penalty to do so;

6.  Calls on OSCE States, namely the United States and Belarus to adopt an immediate moratorium on executions;

7.  Calls on Kazakhstan and Latvia to amend provisions in their national legislation that still allow for the imposition of the death penalty for certain crimes under exceptional circumstances;

8.  Strongly encourages EU Member States to introduce in the framework of a cross-regional alliance a follow-up resolution on the death penalty at UNGA65;

9.  Calls upon the retentionist participating States to encourage the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights and OSCE Missions, in co-operation with the Council of Europe, to conduct awareness-raising activities against recourse to the death penalty, particularly with the media, law enforcement officials, policy-makers and the general public;

10. Urges the Council and the Commission, notably in view of the setting-up of the EEAS, to provide guidance for a comprehensive and effective European death penalty policy with regard to dozens of confirmed European nationals facing execution in third countries, which shall include strong and reinforced mechanisms in terms of the identification system, the delivery of legal assistance, EU legal interventions and diplomatic representations;

11. Further encourages the activities of non-governmental organizations working for the abolition of the death penalty, including Hands Off Cain, Amnesty International, Penal Reform International, the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty and the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights, Sant’Egidio and Reprieve;

12. Commits to monitoring the issue of the death penalty and the raise of specific cases with the country authorities and to considering possible initiatives and ad hoc missions in retentionist countries, so as to urge government authorities to adopt a moratorium on executions with a view to completely abolishing them;

13. Requests the Council and the Commission when it comes to conclude agreements with countries that still apply the death penalty or with countries which have not sign the moratorium in the view of abolishing the death penalty to highly encourage them to do so;

14. Requests the EU High Representative/VP of the Commission and the Members States to continue to speak with one voice and to keep in mind that the main political content of the resolution must be the adoption of a worldwide moratorium as a crucial step towards the abolition of the death penalty;

15. Recall that the full abolition of the death penalty remains one of the main objectives of the EU Human Rights policy; this target will only be achieved by close cooperation between states, cooperation, education, awareness-raising, efficiency and effectiveness;

16. Encourages regional cooperation in this sense; for example, Mongolia has formally established a moratorium on execution s in January 2010 an as a positive consequence, several retentionist countries have been considering the constitutionality of this form of punishment;

17. Calls on the Council and Commission to use the World day and the European day against the death penalty to highlight among others the cases of Sakineh Mohamadi Ashtiani, Zahara Bahrami, Mumia Abu-Jamal, Troy Davis, Oleg Grishkovstov, Andrei Burdyko and Ebrahim Hamidi;

18. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the High Representative, the Council, the Commission, the governments and parliaments of the EU Member States, the UN Secretary-General, and the President of the UN General Assembly and the governments of the UN Member States.

(1) Afghanistan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Botswana, Chad, China, Cuba, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Guinea, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Japan, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Malaysia, Nigeria, North Korea, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Taiwan*, Thailand, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, United States of America, Vietnam, Yemen and Zimbabwe.

Photo: Courtesy European Parliament

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