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"There is no place for the death penalty in a State that respects human rights", says PACE General Rapporteur

Death row

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:

"In this year’s World Day against the Death Penalty, we focus on capital punishment and the prohibition of torture or cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment. The European Court of Human Rights has confirmed that that capital punishment is not compatible with the right to life and that it amounts to “inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment” contrary to the prohibition on torture and inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment enshrined in Article 3 ECHR. This applies in all circumstances, including during times of war.

Council of Europe member States must not extradite or deport an individual to another State where there exist substantial grounds for believing that he or she would face a real risk of being subjected to the death penalty. The death penalty in all forms, as well as the “death row phenomenon”, is incompatible with the prohibition of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

I have been deeply concerned and dismayed at the discussions in Russia and other countries on the possible reintroduction of the death penalty. I call on Russia and other countries to take possible measures to refrain from such proposals and discussions.

It is also deplorable that two observer States of the Council of Europe – the United States, Japan – continue to hand down death sentence and to regularly carry out executions. Similarly, it is deeply regrettable that three of the Assembly’s partners for democracy - Jordan, Morocco and Palestine – have not made progress towards abolition in law of the death penalty as requested by the Assembly. It is with sadness that I note that the death penalty is still not eradicated from the European continent, given that Belarus has not yet taken steps to dispense with this barbaric practice.

However, positive steps are being taken around the world on the prohibition of capital punishment, with Equatorial Guinea and Papua New Guinea, joining the approximately 170 States to have abolished or introduced a moratorium on the death penalty.

Whatever the crime, there is no place for the death penalty in a State that respects human rights. I reiterate the Assembly’s appeal to stop applying the death penalty and ultimately to abolish it in law. I also call on the two Council of Europe member States which have not yet signed and/or ratified Protocol No. 13 to the European Convention on Human Rights to do so as soon as possible."