Nigel Evans, MP for the Ribble Valley, has been working in his capacity as a member of the Council of Europe in their campaign to end the death penalty globally which he backs fully.
This week saw the European and World Day against the Death Penalty. The Council of Europe, led by Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland, and the European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, have issued a joint declaration in firm opposition to capital punishment around the world. Membership of the Council of Europe requires a ban on capital punishment and the absolute ban of the death penalty under all circumstances is inscribed in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.
Nigel welcomed the push towards ending the death penalty worldwide. Great strides have been made across Europe to abolish capital punishment with the only country on the European continent exercising judicial killing being Belarus. What is more, a great of pressure is being placed on Belarus to abolish the practice.
Two thirds of countries have now abolished the death penalty either in law or in practice. Sadly, this still leaves a great number of countries who still execute their citizens. The world’s two biggest superpowers, the United States and China both execute their citizens for crimes. Mr Evans sees this to be a completely unacceptable level of judicial killing.
Speaking from Strasbourg Nigel said:
“Fundamentally, the death penalty is a denial of a person’s right to life which is enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. To kill a person for a crime is unethical. What is more, there can be no certainty that a mistake has not been made in a person’s conviction. Someone wrongfully convicted can be let out of jail – they cannot be brought back from the dead.
“In 2015, over 1600 people were executed worldwide with China, Iran and Pakistan being the worst offenders. These three countries accounted for 89 percent of death penalty executions last year.
“But what I find to be the most outrageous injustice in all this is that the death penalty is handed out in a number of countries for acts which should never be a crime. In countries like Iran, Yemen and Sudan homosexuality can be punishable by death.
“Not only is homosexuality not a crime, but to hand out such a punishment is grossly unjust. This year, Hassan Afshar, an Iranian citizen, was hanged for being a gay man; he was sentenced to death for an act committed when he was a teenager. It is sickening to think that such an injustice could take place in the modern world and it must be stopped. This is abhorrent and should be condemned on every level.
“This is why I am firmly behind the Council of Europe’s campaign to end the death penalty.”
The Resolution on a Moratorium on the Use of the Death Penalty will be put to vote at the 71st session of the UN General Assembly in December of this year.