Wednesday, 16 April 2008

EU against the death penalty

Is the European Union going to re-introduce the death penalty, as claimed as gospel truth by at least Wonko’s World, Why England Needs A Parliament, John Trenchard, PJC Journal and by now a host of other blogs read by thousands of impressionable readers?

None of the above seems to have done any research on their own, but they seem to have been more than willing to publish as a fact that the European Union ‘in a footnote of a footnote’ is making the death penalty possible.

By the look of it, the likely ultimate source is a June 2005 interview with Professor Karl Albrecht Schachtschneider in German, with the double headline ‘Europa nicht als Groβstaat, sondern als “Republik der Republiken” organiseren – Interview mit Prof. Karl Albrecht Schachtschneider über die EU-Verfassung’, posted on the web pages of BüSo, Bürgerrechtsbewegung Solidarität.

The interview contains a heading ‘Wiederkehr des Todesstrafe?’ (Return of the death penalty?), and Schachtschneider’s answer that Article II-62 of the Constitutional Treaty (and the Charter of Fundamental Rights) is untrue. His gives the explanations relating to the Charter as his reasons for two claims: 1) that there is no Constitutional protection of the right to life anymore in the case of war or imminent danger of war, and 2) that the death penalty is possible and will come.


Let us take a look at the EU position on the death penalty. Here is the political answer, the one which came out on top when I googled ‘EU death penalty’. The Delegation of the European Commission to the USA has a web page dedicated to ‘EU policy & action on the death penalty’. The following categorical statement can be found there:

“The European Union (EU) is opposed to the death penalty in all cases and has consistently espoused its universal abolition, working towards this goal.”

The web pages contain 73 links to various policy documents, action in the United Nations, action on US death row cases, European and international agreements and policy makers as well as archived documents relating to earlier years.

See for yourself:

Fairly conclusive for a normal person, one would think: The European Union is against capital punishment.


The motives and working ethics of bloggers like the above are such that I do not want to begin dissecting them.

But how is it possible that the EU institutions and the governments of the member states let such wildfires start and spread without actively, visibly and instantly rebutting malicious rumours devoid of factual basis?

Ralf Grahn