Declaration by the Presidency on behalf of the EU on the seventh World Day and the third European Day Against the Death Penalty
On 10 October, the European Union celebrates the seventh World Day and the third European Day Against the Death Penalty.
The European Union reaffirms its absolute opposition to the use of the death penalty. The European Union is convinced that its abolition is an integral part of respect for human rights and protection of human dignity. The death penalty concerns everyone's right to life. The state, with its particular responsibility as the ultimate guarantor of all persons' human rights, should not deprive anyone of his or her life. The European Union encourages all measures taken with a view to the death penalty's abolition.
The European Union applauds the decisions taken by Burundi and Togo in 2009 to abolish the death penalty completely. Furthermore, the European Union welcomes the commutation of all death sentences in Kenya and Ghana. Regarding actions taken within states to reduce the use of the death penalty, the European Union welcomes the abolition of the death penalty in the state of New Mexico in the United States of America.
The European Union continues to call on Belarus, which is the only country in Europe which continues to apply the death penalty to abolish the penalty.
The European Union deplores the high number of executions still performed in some countries including China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, the USA and Iraq.
A large number of executions are the consequences of irreparable miscarriages of justice. Death sentences are unfortunately frequently handed down in trials that fail to meet internationally recognised standards of fairness. The European Union deplores the fact that minors and mentally disabled persons are still too often condemned to death, in flagrant violation of international law. It also deplores the practices of executions carried out in public and in inhumane fashions. Regrettably, in some states the use of the death penalty remains shrouded in secrecy.
An increasing number of States, now close to one hundred and forty, have renounced capital punishment. For the first time, in December 2007 the United Nations General Assembly gave a clear signal in favour of abolition when it adopted a resolution calling for a moratorium on the use of the death penalty. The adoption of that resolution was the result of determined efforts and cooperation with partners from all regions of the world. The European Union applauds the adoption of the resolution, which marks a turning point on the path towards universal abolition of the death penalty. The European Union will contribute to building further support for resumed work on the issue of the death penalty at the UN General Assembly in 2010.
The issue of the death penalty will continue to be raised, when appropriate, in the European Union's Dialogues and Consultations on Human rights with third countries. With regard to individual cases the European Union will monitor and react according to well - established practice.
The European Union also continues to support the initiatives of civil society organisations which bolster the abolitionist movement throughout the world. It salutes human rights defenders who, with courage and determination, are campaigning on the ground and grouping together initiatives in order to create a mass movement of conscience.
The Candidate Countries Croatia* and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia, and the EFTA countries Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, members of the European Economic Area, as well as Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova align themselves with this declaration.
*Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.