Europe rights watchdog urges Russia, US, Japan to abolish death penalty

Europe rights watchdog urges Russia, US, Japan to abolish death penalty

[JURIST] The Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly [official website] on Wednesday renewed calls [JURIST report] for Russia to abolish the death penalty [JURIST news archive]. Russia recently assumed the rotating chairmanship of the COE's Committee of Ministers [official website]. The Assembly also suggested that if talks to persuade the US and Japan to abolish the death penalty do not progress by the end of the year, the Committee should consider suspending the observer status of the countries.

The recommendation adopted by the Assembly said that:

[The Assembly] urges the Russian authorities to show vis-à-vis public opinion in their country, the same determination and persuasiveness displayed by the other Council of Europe member states, which had the political will and courage to abolish the death penalty despite the potential unpopularity of the measure. …

[The Assembly] finds it inadmissible … that both Japan and the United States continue to apply the death penalty and violate their fundamental obligation to uphold human rights…. There have been 1,016 executions in the United States since the death penalty was reinstated in 1977; eight executions have taken place in Japan since 2001.

In an op-ed [text] written for JURIST last week, COE Secretary-General Terry Davis condemned the death penalty, saying:

Progressive politicians in abolitionist and non-abolitionist countries alike need to inform, educate and campaign for the abolition of capital punishment. If they are short of arguments, they are free to use mine. The death penalty is wrong because it is inhuman and degrading. It is dangerous because it may kill innocent people. It is unjustified because it does not deter crime any better than other forms of punishment. And finally, it is pointless because it gets criminals off the hook. When they are executed, they are no longer punished, they are simply dead.

The Assembly also called on the European Union to initiate discussions with China regarding a moratorium on the death penalty there. Read the Assembly's full recommendation.