World Day Against Death Penalty: EU Notes “de facto moratorium” in Laos

World Day against the Death Penalty
EU supports World Day against the Death Penalty, October 10, in Laos.

The European Union has restated a commitment to work with all countries including Laos to encourage moves toward achieving a global abolition of the death penalty, a government-sanctioned practice whereby a person is killed by the state as a punishment for a crime.

In a statement on October 10 to mark 16th Day Against The Death Penalty also carried in the print version of English daily Vientiane Times and other news media outlets, the European Union welcomed the fact that no sentence of capital punishment had not been carried out in Laos for more than a quarter of a century as well as a reduction in capital crimes in Laos from 18 to 12.

The EU statement read:

World Day against the Death Penalty

“Today the European Union and its Member States reaffirm their strong commitment for the global abolition of the death penalty.

The EU and its Member States encourage all states to work together and support initiatives that will help see an end to the use of this punishment, once and for all. As a sign of its unwavering support to eradicating capital punishment, the EU together with more than 60 countries agreed to step up the pace of its efforts and work towards a United Nations instrument, such as a binding convention, to stop the trade in instruments for torture and the death penalty. Along the same lines, the European Union will co-host the 7th World Congress against the Death Penalty in Brussels next year.

Today 143 states, almost three quarters of the world countries, including all European Member States, have rejected the death penalty. The arguments for executing criminals have been demystified. Capital punishment is often perceived as a measure to deter people from committing severe crimes, including for drug related crimes, but in fact there is no evidence for this argument.

Furthermore, the death penalty imposes an irrevocable sentence. We must bear in mind that no justice system is immune to judicial error. On the contrary, there is considerable evidence that many mistakes have been made in sentencing people to death. We are also convinced that even the most serious crimes do not deprive the perpetrator of the ‘dignity of the person,’ and that decent prisons are capable of fully protecting citizens from dangerous criminals.

In Laos, a de facto moratorium on the death penalty has been applied even though the death penalty is still retained in the legislation. However, no executions have been carried out for more than 25 years.

While a de jure moratorium on the death penalty is still not being considered, we welcome the abolitionist voices that have been recently heard in the plenary sessions of the National Assembly and that the number of crimes punishable by the capital sentence has been reduced from 18 to 12.

Nevertheless, the Penal Code still prescribes death penalty for crimes, including drug-related crimes that do not meet the threshold of the ‘most serious crimes’ as intended by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Laos recognizes the importance of this Covenant and the fundamental values thereof.

The EU renews its calls to take effective steps to bring the world closer to ridding itself of this ultimate cruel, inhuman, irrevocable and degrading punishment.”

Signed by the European Union Delegation to the Lao PDR and the Embassies of Germany, Luxemburg, France and United Kingdom.