(Brussels, 01 April 2015) Amnesty International today launches its report, Death Sentences and Executions: 2014. The report covers death penalty trends and statistics from across the globe. In 2014, an alarming number of countries used the death penalty in a seemingly misguided and politically-motivated attempt to tackle internal dissent, crime, or security threats – real or perceived. For further information on global developments, please see Amnesty International’s international press release.
From a European perspective, Belarus remains the sole country in the region that executes. At least three people were put to death in 2014, ending a 24-month hiatus on executions. Elsewhere in the region, all European Union (EU) countries are abolitionist. The absolute ban on the death penalty is enshrined in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU. The current holder of the EU Presidency, Latvia, was the last member state to abolish capital punishment in war time in 2012.
However, whilst ending executions worldwide is central to the EU’s foreign policy, questions remain over whether and how it is making sure third country partners stop using the death penalty. This is of particular concern in the area of security cooperation. As part of a recent EU move towards ‘international cooperation’ and mainstreaming counter-terrorism work into foreign policy, there has been a push for ‘targeted and upgraded’ security and counter-terrorism dialogues with, for example, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. Work is underway to extend dialogues to countries including Egypt and Jordan.
The majority of these countries use the death penalty, but a commitment to abolition has so far been seemingly absent from related counter-terror discussions. There is a real concern that such cooperation risks more people, including peaceful activists, being arrested, tortured, sentenced to death, and executed in relation to so-called security or terrorism charges.
The EU is an important global force against the death penalty, and must at every opportunity continue to press countries to end this human rights abuse. The use of the death penalty violates the right to life. It is the ultimate cruel, inhumane and degrading punishment, in any and all circumstances. It is no more a deterrent to crime than a prison sentence.
David Nichols, Amnesty International’s European Institutions Office’s expert on EU Foreign Policy, will be available for interview on global developments, and what the EU is and should be doing to ensure a world-wide end to the use of the death penalty.
For further information or to arrange an interview, please contact:
Head of Media & Communications
Amnesty International European Institutions Office
Telephone: +32 (0)2 548 27 73
Mobile: +32 (0)483 680 812
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