Thursday, 12 February 2004

Questions (18)

David Stanton

Question:

13 Mr. Stanton asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs his views on the Amnesty International report on the use of the death penalty for child offenders; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4303/04]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Minister for Foreign)

I am aware of the recent report from Amnesty and welcome the organisation's contribution to the promotion and protection of human rights. As the Amnesty International report states, and as I have stated on many occasions, the EU is adamantly opposed to the use of the death penalty in all circumstances and accordingly seeks its universal abolition.

The EU position on this issue is clearly set out in the EU guidelines on the death penalty, adopted in 1998, and referred to in this report. These guidelines seek, in the first instance, the universal abolition of the death penalty and state that where the death penalty still exists, the EU will continue to press for its use to be progressively restricted, including in the cases of juvenile offenders. The EU has consistently taken action on this issue, through interventions in individual cases including juvenile cases in some of the countries cited in the Amnesty report.

In addition to this, the EU frequently raises the issue of the death penalty in démarches on human rights issues, through its human rights dialogues and by raising the issue at appropriate regional and international fora such as the Council of Europe, the OSCE and the UN Commission on Human Rights. The EU has consistently urged states that have not yet done so, to sign, ratify and fully implement the terms of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child which unreservedly prohibits the imposition of the death penalty on persons below 18 years of age.

The EU welcomed the entry into force of Protocol No. 13 of the European Convention on Human Rights last year. This protocol bans the death penalty in all circumstances, including for crimes committed in time of war and imminent threat of war. The EU has called upon all member states of the Council of Europe, who have note yet done so, to sign and ratify Protocol 13. The EU is the principal sponsor of a resolution on the death penalty and joint sponsor of a resolution on the rights of the child at the UN Commission on Human Rights. Both resolutions call upon all states to comply with the provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which prohibit the imposition of the death penalty on persons under 18 years of age.

The abolition of the death penalty is a political priority for Ireland and our EU partners. The EU will continue to closely monitor developments regarding the death penalty with a view to highlighting its concerns regarding both individual cases and the current death penalty practices and to continue to work for its worldwide abolition.