The Delegation of the European Union organises a public debate on "Death Penalty" (11/10/2011)
On the occasion of the World and European Day Against the Death Penalty, the Delegation of the European Union to Lebanon organised a public debate on the theme of "Death Penalty" at the Lebanese Press Syndicate.
The public debate took place in the presence of representatives of the European Union Member States Embassies in Lebanon, Members of Parliament, government representatives, human rights defenders, representatives of Lebanese civil society and the press. Interventions were made by Ambassador Angelina Eichhorst, Head of the Delegation of the European Union, Mr. Fateh Azzam, Regional Representative of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in the Middle East, Mr. Wadih al-Asmar, Director of the Lebanese Centre for Human Rights (CLDH), Mrs. Dareen el-Hajj from the Lebanese Association for Education and Training (ALEF), and Mr. Nizar Saghieh, a Lebanese lawyer who has experience of death penalty cases.
In the framework of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) and the Action Plan of the EU-Lebanon Association Agreement, Lebanon has committed to engage in a dialogue on the death penalty, specifically on accession to the Second Optional Protocol of International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights that aims at the abolition of the death penalty. In the 2010 EU-Lebanon ENP Sub-Committee on Human Rights, Lebanon committed to maintaining the moratorium and to take steps to reach a national consensus on abolition.
The debate gave an overview of the issues concerning the death penalty from an international, European, regional and Lebanese perspective. The presentations addressed both the situation on the ground and the legal framework.
Recalling the consensus among all EU Member States against the death penalty, Ambassador Angelina Eichhorst said: "There is no evidence that the threat of execution deters people from committing crimes. The possibility always remains, even with the most water-tight legal system, for a miscarriage of justice that ends up in the execution of an innocent person. Once an execution has been carried out, there is no reprieve."
Following the interventions the participants fielded a series of questions from floor which led to interactive and engaging discussion on the topic.
Background Information: Lebanon
The Lebanese law still allows for the passing of death sentences for various types of crimes, by hanging or firing squad. In 1994 Lebanonreinstated the death penalty ending a decade long moratorium; the new law (Law 301) also extended the number of offences that were punishable by death. Between 1994 and 2004 17 executions were carried out, and there has been a de facto moratorium since 2004. Nevertheless by 2009, at least 43 persons had been sentenced to death, at least a further 5 death sentences were transmuted in 2010, and several have been passed in 2011. Regrettably, statistics and official information are not readily available on the implementation of death penalty in Lebanon.
Background information: European Union
The abolition of the death penalty is a prerequisite for EU membership. The abolition of the death penalty amongst EU Member States began well before the establishment of the EU, with Portugal abolishing it in 1867 and Denmark in 1892.
The abolition now extends to all members of the EU. The EU's Charter on Fundamental Rights rejects the use of death penalty in all cases. No execution has occurred within the territory of the EU Member States since 1997.
Background Information: General
More than 2/3 of the world’s countries have abolished the death penalty in law or practice:
- 97 countries have abolished the death penalty for all crimes;
- 8 countries have abolished the death penalty for all crimes except extraordinary crimes such as those committed in times of war;
- 34 countries are de facto abolitionists: the death penalty is still provided for in legislation but no executions have been carried out for at least en years.
Therefore, 139 countries have abolished the death penalty de jure or de facto.58