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Renate Wohlwend regrets invitation to US to join Venice Commission without dialogue over death penalty

Strasbourg, 18.02.2013 – “The Council of Europe Committee of Ministers missed a big chance to fight against the death penalty when it invited the United States to join the Venice Commission without first asking the US to re-open a constructive dialogue on ending executions,” said Renate Wohlwend (Liechtenstein, EPP/CD), General Rapporteur on the abolition of the death penalty for the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE).

“This is the least that the Council of Europe should have demanded for the sake of its own credibility,” said Mrs Wohlwend, reacting to the decision four days ago by the Council’s executive body. “The Council's abolitionist stance, including vis-à-vis Observer States such as the US, is reflected in numerous resolutions and recommendations adopted by the Parliamentary Assembly.”

“In my deeply held view, the Council of Europe should be coherent and request a moratorium on executions as a requirement for accession to any branch of the Organisation and not just, as it has done for many years, for the accession of new member States.”

The Venice Commission is the Council of Europe’s body of independent experts in constitutional law, which is also open to countries that are not members of the Council of Europe. 58 states are full members. The US has held observer status since 1991.

In an April 2011 resolution, the Parliamentary Assembly again called on the US, among others, to “join the growing consensus among democratic countries that protect human rights and human dignity by abolishing the death penalty”.