Didier Reynders and 41 of his counterparts call for death penalty to be abolished

date: 09 October 2013

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Didier Reynders has signed a call for the abolition of the death penalty, along with 41 other ministers for foreign affairs. These signatories stress that the death penalty is inherently inhumane and that this issue must remain on the international agenda until the very last country has abolished the death penalty.

Justice that kills is not justice. This is the theme of the appeal published on 10 October on the occasion of the 11th World Day against the Death Penalty. The 42 signatories from Council of Europe Member States are opposed to the death penalty in all circumstances, all over the world. To rob someone of their life in the name of the law runs counter to human dignity, both for the convict and their family. Furthermore, there does not seem to be any positive impact in terms of crime prevention or safety.

At the moment, fifty countries still apply the death sentence. Twice as many did so twenty years ago. This reduction did not happen by chance but is the result of hard work, dialogue and persuasion.

The Council of Europe and the European Convention on Human Rights have acted as catalysers in getting capital punishment banned from the European continent. Belarus, which is not a member of the institution, is currently the only country in Europe to still use capital punishment. The signatories are urging Minsk to introduce a moratorium as a first step.

Many countries in America, Asia and Africa have also abolished the death penalty, and at the level of the United Nations, the majority of countries in favour of a moratorium on the penalty is becoming ever larger. The political signal is being given by the 42 signatories at a crucial time on the worldwide campaign and underlines the positive role that can be played by multilateral organisations such as the Council of Europe to help countries to stop enforcing the death penalty.

Our country confirms its active role in this respect. For instance, during the 24th session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva last month, a panel discussion was organised at the initiative of Belgium on the rights of children of parents who have been given the death penalty.

Last June, in Madrid, on the occasion of the 5th World Congress against the Death Penalty, the Minister confirmed his commitment to continue to work with civil society.

This is one of the priorities of the human rights policy of Minister Reynders and one for which he will continue to fight.

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