Summary: 11 May 2009, Brussels - The European Union welcomes the abolition of the death penalty in Burundi on 22 April 2009.
The EU congratulates the Government and the people of Burundi on the important decision to enact a new Penal code, which puts an end to the death penalty in the country and makes torture, genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity punishable offences.
The European Union considers that the abolition of capital punishment contributes to the enhancement of human dignity. The European Union reaffirms its objective of working towards the universal abolition of the death penalty. It believes that the abolition by Burundi is an important step towards that aim and hopes that this decision will encourage other countries in the region to follow suit.
However, the EU strongly regrets that the penal legislation concerned has introduced a provision on criminalisation of homosexuality.
In this context, the EU wishes to recall that the criminalisation of consensual same-sex relations presents a violation of the rights to privacy, equality and non-discrimination as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and that adoption of such a norm is contradictory to Burundi's obligations under the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights and the African Charter of Human and People's Rights.
Moreover, the EU recalls the position of the UN Human Rights Committee that the laws against homosexuality run counter to the implementation of effective education programmes in respect of HIV/AIDS prevention by driving marginalised communities underground, a position repeatedly confirmed by the Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.
Therefore the European Union encourages the government of Burundi to fully implement the new Criminal Code as far as the adoption of the death penalty and the criminalization of torture, genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity are concerned; however, the European union calls on the Burundi authorities not to apply the provision criminalising homosexuality, to remove the provision from the law and to bring the Penal Code in line with the international treaties Burundi has signed and ratified.
"The Candidate Countries Croatia* and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia, and the EFTA countries Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, members of the European Economic Area, as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova, Armenia and Georgia align themselves with this declaration.
* Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process."