Final declaration of the first World Congress Against the Death Penalty

May 2001

[English] [français]

We, citizens and abolitionist campaigners gathered in Strasbourg from 21 to 23 June 2001 for the First World Congress against the Death Penalty, organised by Ensemble contre la peine de mort / Together against the death penalty, declare :

The death penalty means the triumph of vengeance over justice and violates the first right of any human being, the right to life. Capital punishment has never prevented crime. It is an act of torture and the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. A society that imposes the death penalty symbolically encourages violence. Every single society that respects the dignity of its people has to strive to abolish capital punishment.

We are pleased to note that many Speakers of Parliament have decided to launch on 22 June a “Solemn appeal for a world-wide moratorium on executions of those sentenced to death as a step towards universal abolition” at the European Parliament. We demand the universal abolition of the death penalty. In this respect, we call on citizens, states and international organizations to act so that :

- states ratify all abolitionist treaties and conventions on an international and regional level;
- countries which have stopped executing people sentenced to death, remove the death penalty from their statute books;
- states which sentence to death persons who were juveniles at the time of the crime end this blatant violation of international law;
- mentally disabled people cannot be sentenced to death;
- no states having abolished or suspended executions extradite anyone to third countries still applying the death penalty, irrespective of guarantees that it would not be imposed;
- states regularly and openly publish information on death sentences, detention conditions and executions.

We support the investigation of the Council of Europe on the compatibility of the observer status of the United States and Japan with their adherence to the death penalty.

We call on the Council of Europe and the European Union to insist that Turkey, Russia and Armenia permanently abolish the death penalty for ALL crimes and commute all death sentences.

We call on the European Union to continue its efforts to achieve the abolition of the death penalty in the ordinary course of its international relations.

In addition to these general recommendations, we will issue specific recommendations, on a country-by-country basis, to support abolitionist campaigners.

We commit ourselves to creating a world-wide co-ordination of associations and abolitionist campaigners, whose first goal will be to launch a world-wide day for the universal abolition of the death penalty.

We call on the judicial and medical professions to confirm the utter incompatibility of their values with the death penalty and to intensify, country-by-country, their activities against the death penalty.

We associate ourselves with the petitions collected by Amnesty International, the Community of Sant’ Egidio, Ensemble contre la peine de mort, the Federation of Human Rights League, Hands off Cain and any other organisations and call on all abolitionist campaigners to sign the following international petition:

« We, citizens of the world, call for an immediate halt of all executions of those sentenced to death and the universal abolition of the death penalty »

Lastly, we call upon every state to take all possible steps towards the adoption by the United Nations of a world-wide moratorium on executions, pending universal abolition.

Strasbourg, 22 June 2001

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