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MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION on the death penalty in South Korea


with request for inclusion in the agenda for the debate on cases of breaches of human rights, democracy and the rule of law
pursuant to Rule 122 of the Rules of Procedure

Barbara Lochbihler, Gerald Häfner, Sandrine Bélier, Heidi Hautala on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group

See also joint motion for a resolution RC-B7-0191/2010

Procedūra : 2010/2603(RSP)
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European Parliament resolution on the death penalty in South Korea

The European Parliament,

- Having regard to its previous resolutions on the abolition of the death penalty and its resolution of 29 January 2007 in favour of a universal moratorium on the death penalty,


- Having regard to the UNGA resolution on the death penalty adopted on 18 December 2007 by the General Assembly calling for a Moratorium on capital punishment,


- Having regard to the updated and revised version of the EU Guidelines on the Death Penalty, adopted by the Council,


- Having regard to the final declaration adopted by the 4th World Congress against the Death Penalty in Geneva 24-26 February 2010 calling for the abolition of the death penalty worldwide,


- Having regard to the new Framework Agreement between the EU and the Republic of South Korea which still has to be ratified by the European Parliament, and notably Article 1(1) thereof stipulating that the respect for human rights represents an essential element of this agreement and that all other agreements between the EU and Korea (such as the Free Trade Agreement) form an integral part of the Framework Agreement,


- Having regard to Rule 122 of its Rules of Procedure,



A.  Whereas on 25 February 2010 the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Korea ruled by a five to four majority that capital punishment is constitutional; whereas the judges however underlined that the debate about whether to retain or abolish the death penalty should take place in the National Assembly and not in a constitutional trial,


B.  Whereas this is the second time such a judgment has been given; whereas the previous judgment in November 1996 was established by a seven to two majority vote,


C.  Whereas the last execution in Korea took place in December 1997; whereas under the then incoming President Kim Dae-Jung, who was himself sentenced to death in 1980 before being pardoned, capital punishment was no longer applied and the Republic of Korea joint for the last 13 years the group of nations who are "abolitionist in practice",

D.  Whereas since the foundation of the Republic in 1948, 920 people have been executed according to the Ministry of Justice and at present Human rights organisations record 59 inmates on death row,


E.  Whereas in 2006 the National Human Rights Commission put forth a draft law on the abolition of the death penalty which was however rejected by the National Assembly as were several earlier attempts,


F.  Whereas, according to NGOs specialised in the subject, 96 countries have outlawed the death penalty, 8 believe that it should be abolished for ordinary crimes, 43 de facto do not apply the death penalty, 5 are working on a moratorium and only 45 still maintain and practise capital punishment,


G.  Whereas in 2007 and in 2008 the United Nations General Assembly adopted by a large majority resolutions asking countries that practise the death penalty to "establish a moratorium on executions with the aim of abolishing the death penalty,"

1.  Deeply regrets the decision of Korea's constitutional court to uphold the death penalty but notes that the ruling was adopted by a very small majority contrary to the 7 to 2 verdict in 1996;


2.  Applauds the great achievements in recent years by the Republic of Korea in the improvement of protection and promotion of human rights and urges the Government and Parliament to continue to set an example in the region;


3.  Welcomes the fact that South Korea has not applied the capital punishment since 1997 and appeals to the Government to maintain its "abolitionist in practice" status;


4.  Calls on the Government to declare an official moratorium and to support international efforts for such a step worldwide as 96 countries have already done;


5.  Calls on the South Korean Parliament as an immediate first step to revise the list of crimes which carry the death penalty and to rapidly adopt legislation outlawing the use of the death penalty altogether;


6.  Reiterates its general opposition to the death penalty which is contrary to a modern criminal justice system as it does not reduce crime rates, contrary to often held popular belief, while carrying significant risks of bias towards disadvantaged groups and is without remedy in case of judicial errors;

7.  Notes with satisfaction that the number of countries which have abandoned the practice of capital punishment continue to increase and that those opposed by law or practice have by now largely outnumbered those who still use it;


8.  Calls on the government of South Korea to support the United Nations resolution on the abolition of the death penalty, and to decide next autumn to co-sponsor or vote in favour of a resolution which will be presented at the General Assembly;


9.  Considers that the decision of the Constitutional Court is a matter of serious concern touching upon the essential elements stipulated in Article 1(1) of the EU Korea Framework Agreement and calls on its competent Committee to follow up on the matter in the context of the ratification procedure;

10.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the High Representative/Vice-President of the Commission, Catherine Ashton, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the UN Secretary General and the Government of the Republic of Korea.