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 Full text 
Wednesday, 6 October 2010 - Brussels OJ edition

World day against the death penalty (debate)

  Marietje Schaake, on behalf of the ALDE Group. – Madam President, it gives me great pride that the European Union, as a community of values where the death penalty is abolished, is strongly committed to act as a global player on the abolition of the death penalty everywhere.

In negotiations with candidate Member States and in our dialogues with other countries, whether it is the United States or whether it is Iran, we consistently push for the abolition, de jure or de facto, of this most inhumane punishment. The impact of the death penalty in preventing crime is not even proven. Therefore, its practice is even more contested. While there should not be impunity for the most serious crimes, the death penalty in and of itself constitutes a human rights violation according to the right to life, as declared in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

We believe in prosecuting crimes under international law, but always under fair trial and with due process. Too often, this is not the case and, in any case, the United Nations has established that drug-related crimes do not qualify as the most serious crimes.

The United Nations has also spoken out in favour of a moratorium on the death penalty, and this is an important statement. At the same time, the UN is struggling for its credibility when Iran is among the members of the Women’s Rights Council.

The EU should still speak with one voice and operate more strategically when it comes to addressing important human rights topics, such as the abolition of the death penalty.

Today, the China-EU cultural summit is taking place here in Brussels as we speak. This important step should be applauded, but at the same time, we cannot overlook the fact that China holds the record for the highest number of death penalties, the true number of which we do not even know, due to a lack of transparency and the fact that certain people are qualified as non-people. China is beaten only by Iran when it comes to the execution of juveniles, and killing children cannot be justified under any circumstances. A celebration of culture reminds us of the essential freedom of expression, but too many people across the world are subject to the death penalty and a fear thereof as a result of the words that they have expressed.

The EU should also step up its responsibilities in providing shelter for people from countries that practise the death penalty. The Shelter Cities programme should become operational as soon as possible.

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