European Union Reasserts Its Opposition to the Death Penalty in All Countries and All Cases

On June 16, 2008, the Council of the European Union (EU) meeting in Luxembourg released a statement on General Affairs and External Relations. The document contained a restatement of its 1998 Human Rights Guideline on the death penalty. The Council, consisting of almost all Foreign Ministers in the EU, stated that it “reaffirms that working towards universal abolition of the death penalty constitutes an integral objective of the EU’s human rights policy.” The Council reasserted the “opposition of the European Union to the death penalty in all cases and in all circumstances. The abolition of the death penalty contributes to the enhancement of human dignity and the progressive development of human rights.”

The Council commended the “considerable progress [that] has been made worldwide towards the abolition of the death penalty” in the past 10 years. They added, “The adoption by the UN General Assembly last year of a cross-regional initiative calling for a moratorium on the use of the death penalty is a significant achievement in this regard. At the same time, the Council, “regrets that a number of States still maintain the death penalty. We call on all these states to abolish the death penalty; if necessary with the immediate establishment of a moratorium on the use of the death penalty, with a view to abolishing it.”

(“General Affairs and External Relations Press Release,” Council of the European Union, Dimitrij Rupel, President, June 16, 2008). See International.