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We must do more to end the death penalty, says PACE General Rapporteur

Vladimir Vardanyan (Armenia, EPP/CD)
©Armenian Parliament

On the occasion of the World Day against the Death Penalty (10 October), PACE General Rapporteur on the abolition of the death penalty Vladimir Vardanyan (Armenia, EPP/CD) made the following statement:

“This year’s World Day against the Death Penalty is dedicated to women who risk being sentenced to death, who have received a death sentence, or who have been executed, as well as those who have had their death sentences commuted, have been exonerated or pardoned. Although many international legal instruments exclude pregnant women and nursing mothers from the application of capital punishment, in criminal proceedings launched against them, women are often victims of prejudice, socio-economic inequality and gender-based discrimination, coupled with other factors. States applying the death penalty must honour their international commitments regarding women’s rights, including those concerning non-discrimination and equality before the law.

To date 144 countries, more than two-thirds of all countries in the world, have abolished the death penalty in law or no longer apply it, whereas 55 countries continue to use it. This year has been marked by the abolition of capital punishment in Sierra Leone and in the Commonwealth of Virginia (United States), as well as by the ratification by Armenia and Kazakhstan of the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights aiming at the abolition of the death penalty.

Unfortunately, despite a growing abolitionist trend worldwide, at least 2,400 people have been executed in 2021 and at least 33,000 people remain on death row, including at least 800 women, according to some reports. It is also deplorable that several countries which have a co-operation status with the Council of Europe – the United States, Japan, Jordan, Morocco and Palestine – as well as Belarus, as the only country in Europe, continue to hand down death sentences or carry out executions. I would like to express the hope that the issue of the abolition of the death penalty in this country will be considered in the context of the ongoing constitutional discussions in Belarus.

The death penalty is always a cruel and inhuman punishment, whatever the crime, and more must be done to eradicate it. I reiterate the Assembly’s appeal to stop applying the death penalty and ultimately to abolish it in law. I also call on Council of Europe member States which have not yet signed and/or ratified Protocols Nos. 6 and/or 13 to the European Convention on Human Rights to do so as soon as possible.”