World Day against the Death Penalty (10 October 2014) [fr]
In France death penalty has been abolished in 1981.
Since then, France is committed to work in favor of the universal abolition of the death penalty. In 2007 this principle has been enshrined in the Fifth Republic’s Constitution whose article provides that “no one shall be sentenced to the death penalty.” French law also prohibits the removal of any person to a country where they risk the death penalty.
The Abolition of the Death Penalty under French Law
Driven by then Justice Minister Robert Badinter’s commitment and his speech to the National Assembly, the law dated 9 October 1981 abolished the death penalty in France. This law reinforced France’s longstanding efforts to promote human dignity.
France has thus signed all international commitments on abolishing the death penalty through the United Nations and through the Council of Europe.
France has ratified the following conventions:
- • The Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights adopted by the UN General Assembly in New York on 15 December 1989 provides for abolishing the death penalty.
- • On August 1st, 2007, the Parliament approved the ratification of the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. France acceded to this Protocol on October 2nd, 2007. While it allows Party States to apply the death penalty in time of war if they have made a reservation to that effect, France did not, however, pose such a reservation upon this protocol’s ratification.
- • The European Convention of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, ratified by France on 3 May 1974, protects the right to life of every person (Article 2). However, it allows, as an exception, the execution of a capital sentence delivered by a court, if the offense is punishable with the death penalty by law.
- • The Additional Protocol No. 6 to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms , ratified by France on 1 March 1986, provides for abolishing the death penalty in peacetime. It allows the Party States to maintain the death penalty for crimes committed “in time of war or imminent threat of war.”
- • The Additional Protocol No. 13 to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (2002). This text has been in force with regards to France since 1 February 2008. It provides for abolishing the death penalty in all circumstances, including in times of war or imminent threat of war. It aims to “take the final step of abolishing the death penalty in all circumstances.
The international Action of France
France’s commitment in favor of the universal abolition of the death penalty has been determined and constant. This combat constitutes one of its priorities with regards to Human Rights at the international level. It also represents a priority in the European Union’s joint action.
The European Union and France consider the death penalty as cruel and inhuman and its abolition contributes to protecting the right to life. No legal system is immune from judicial error, which may lead to the irreparable loss of human life. Finally, the death penalty makes no useful contribution to combatting crime. It has no preventive value; instead, it constitutes a symbol of the justice system’s failure.
To have a comprehensive look on Death Penalty around the world, you may consult our interactive map here
Within the European Union
The abolition of the death penalty is a prerequisite for accession to the European Union. All candidates for entry into the European Union have signed the European texts on the subject.
The Charter of Fundamental Rights, Article 2, prohibits the death penalty and expulsion or extradition of persons to a country where they risk the death penalty.
In 1998, the EU adopted Guidelines regarding the death penalty aimed at coordinating the EU’s action on this issue and making it one of the of the EU’s human rights priorities. The EU regularly conducts global advocacy campaigns to convince States of the need to abolish the death penalty, which goes against human dignity.
Finally, France and the EU support Human Rights defenders campaigning for abolishing the death penalty.
In Multilateral Fora
In close cooperation with its European partners, France works for the universal abolition of the death penalty, in all relevant international fora, including the UN.
France has also argued forcefully that the death penalty should be outlawed from penalties provided by international criminal courts.
The European Union and France have actively contributed to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) adopting resolutions calling for establishing a universal moratorium on applying the death penalty in 2007, 2008, 2010 and 2012. In 2012, 110 states voted in favor of this resolution.