On 6 October 2015, during its Plenary session in Strasbourg (France), the European Parliament held a formal debate on the Death Penalty.
Ahead of the World Day against the Death Penalty, to be held on Saturday 10 October 2015, the members of the European Parliament discussed the EU’s categorical opposition to the death penalty. All 28 EU member states oppose the death penalty, as it is one of the pre-conditions to join the European Union. Further, this opposition is enshrined in the EU treaties and is part of the fundamental values of the EU.
The European Union also issued its “EU Guidelines on the Death Penalty” in 2013 to reinforce its position. Further, the worldwide abolition of the death penalty is also cited in the newly adopted EU Action Plan for Democracy and Human Rights as one of the main points to tackle by the EU in its foreign relations.
Led by MEP Ms Valenciano, Chair of the EP’s subcommittee on Human Rights, several members took the floor, and all of them without exception expressed their opposition to the death penalty, regardless of their country of origin or political affiliation. Throughout the debate MEPs asked the EU to further extend its efforts in abolishing the death Penalty worldwide, and to increase its public stance on the topic when engaging in bilateral relations with third countries, notably with the worst offenders such as China, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. The case of Ali Al-Nimr, a young Saudi sentenced to death by beheading and crucifixion for crimes he committed when he was 17 was raised twice during the debate.
The European Centre for Democracy and Human Rights (ECDHR) is very pleased to see this categorical opposition to the death penalty worldwide, coming from all the members of the Chamber. Like many MEPs, ECDHR believes that the Union can do more to eradicate the death penalty, especially in countries where it is linked to politicised sentences and where due process and fair trials are non-existent. As members noted, the EU should further raise this issues when engaging in diplomatic and bilateral / trade relations with third countries systematically violating Human Rights, including via the death penalty.
ECDHR live-tweeted the debate.
The full video of the debate (which took place on Tuesday 6 October at 19:15 ECT) can be web-streamed here.