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Israel's death penalty bill: a step in the wrong direction

"Yesterday, the Knesset gave its preliminary approval for legislation that would make it easier for a court to impose a death sentence for murder in attacks classified as terrorism. This is a worrying development and clearly a step in the wrong direction,” Yves Cruchten (Luxembourg, SOC), General Rapporteur on abolition of the death penalty for the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) said in a statement today.

“The rejection of capital punishment is a basic principle of the Council of Europe. As the Parliamentary Assembly of this organisation, we are proud of our contribution to creating a death-penalty-free zone in Europe bringing together 47 states. However, the abolition of the death penalty is a continuous fight to uphold the values we share, within and outside our borders.

A moratorium on executions and a commitment to abolition are a condition for membership in the Council of Europe. The Knesset has observer status with PACE and I make an appeal (on behalf of the Parliamentary Assembly) to fellow MPs in Israel to go back on their preliminary decision concerning the death penalty bill. Furthermore I urge Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to go ahead with the ‘deeper discussions at ministerial level’, that he said such legislation would require before further debate in the Knesset.

There is no place for the death penalty in a civilised world. Current campaigns for reintroducing the death penalty in many countries across the globe reflect an overall crisis of values of human rights and democracy, as well as the failure of institutions to protect people and ensure the respect of their fundamental rights,” Yves Cruchten said.