The Council of Europe is a death penalty free area

Death Penalty

Human Rights


The Council of Europe, a death penalty free area


Europe is today the only region in the world where the death penalty is no longer applied. All the Council of Europe's 47 member states have either abolished capital punishment or instituted a moratorium on executions.

The Council of Europe played a leading role in the battle for abolition, believing that the death penalty has no place in democratic societies.

This determination to eradicate the death penalty was reflected in Protocol No.6 to the European Convention on Human Rights. It followed an initiative from the Parliamentary Assembly to abolish the death penalty in peacetime and was adopted in April 1983. In 2002, another important step was taken with the adoption of Protocol No. 13 on the abolition of capital punishment in all circumstances, even for acts committed in time of war.

The Council has made abolition of the death penalty a prerequisite for membership. As a result, no execution has taken place on the territory of the organisation’s member states since 1997.

The Parliamentary Assembly continues to monitor the capital punishment issue. It has extended its action to countries enjoying observer status with the Council. This mainly concerns Japan and the United States.

Committee of Ministers deplores recent executions in Japan and United States

At the meeting of the Ministers' Deputies on 13 March 2013, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe adopted the following statement:

"The Committee of Ministers deplores the executions which have recently taken place in Japan and in the United States of America, observer States to the Council of Europe.

These executions run counter to the growing trend against the death penalty at the international level as shown by the latest resolution on the moratorium on the use of the death penalty adopted at the United Nations.

The Committee of Ministers reiterates its unequivocal opposition to capital punishment in all places and in all circumstances. It remains determined to continue its efforts towards global abolition and calls again on the Japanese and American authorities to put an end to this inhumane practice." (more...)

A posters' exhibition for the 2010 Day against the Death Penalty

Minsk, the capital of Belarus, hosts an exhibition of one hundred posters selected as part of the 2010 Poster4Tomorrow competition, which in 2010 is being sponsored by the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Thorbjørn Jagland, with the focus on abolition of the death penalty.

“Death is not justice” is also the slogan of the Council of Europe campaign to rally European citizens around the cause of abolition.

The exhibition follows a round table held on 23 September 2010, where the Council of Europe and the Belarusian authorities discussed the introduction of a moratorium on the death penalty in the country. (more...)

Abolition of death penalty: the Council of Europe leading the way

On the occasion of the World Congress against the Death Penalty in Geneva, Assembly Rapporteur on the abolition of the death penalty Renate Wohlwend invited on 25 February 2010 Council of Europe's observer states, Japan and the United States, "to join in the movement towards abolition of this barbaric punishment."

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Did you know that

Bianca Jagger has been nominated "Council of Europe Goodwill Ambassador" for the Fight against the Death Penalty.