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Summary: 15 June 2009, Brussels - The European Union is deeply disturbed at reports that in recent days further death sentences were carried out in Iraq, probably totalling number 20. Moreover, the European Union is severely alarmed about indications that further mass executions might be imminent.
The European Union opposes the death penalty in all cases and in all circumstances. Our view is that the abolition of the death penalty contributes to the enhancement of human dignity and the progressive development of human rights. The European Union considers the death penalty as a cruel and inhuman punishment and a violation to the right to life. We consider that it provides no added value in terms of deterrence.
At a time where a positive image of Iraq and of its achievements is emerging, the resumption of the execution of capital punishment affects that image and does not help the effort aiming at promoting the awareness of the positive developments in Iraq within the international community and public opinion.
The European Union is particularly disturbed about the way in which the death penalty is applied in Iraq, a country where the judiciary is still being developed. The EU recalls that any miscarriage or failure of justice in the application of capital punishment represents an irreparable and irreversible loss of human life.
The European Union considers it indispensable that where States insist on applying the death penalty, it is carried out with due respect to international obligations for the protection of human rights, including the obligation that the death penalty may only be carried out pursuant to a final judgment after legal process which gives all possible safeguards to ensure a fair trial, at least equal to those contained in article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, including the right of anyone suspected of or charged with a crime for which capital punishment may be imposed to adequate legal assistance at all stages of the proceedings.
The EU therefore urges the Government of Iraq to resume the de facto suspension of the execution of death penalty, which had been observed in Iraq since August 2007, pending legal abolition. This suspension should include all cases still on death row in Iraq. Such a step would be in line with the global trend towards abolition, as demonstrated, inter alia, by the recent UN General Assembly Resolutions calling for a moratorium with a view to considering the abolition of the death penalty for all crimes.
The Candidate Countries Turkey, Croatia* and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania and Montenegro, and the EFTA countries Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, members of the European Economic Area, as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova and Armenia align themselves with this declaration.
* Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.