Campaign for the abolition of the death penalty
Laurent Fabius is making the universal abolition of the death penalty a priority of his action. He has taken the initiative of holding a high-level meeting on the subject in New York 27 September 2012, which he co-chaired with his Beninese counterpart, Nassirou Arifari Bako.
Major figures committed to human rights and the abolition of the death penalty were taking part – among others, Navanethem Pillay, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Kenneth Roth, Executive Director of Human Rights Watch, and Raphaël Chenuil-Hazan, Director-General of "Together against the Death Penalty".
The meeting came a few days before the official launch on October 9 of the French campaign for universal abolition. The aim of this campaign is to renew and step up the action taken in recent years to raise awareness of the abolition of the death penalty. It involves encouraging debate and lending our support to local players committed to abolition.
Laurent Fabius, The Foreign Affairs Minister of France with Nassirou Arifari Bako.
The campaign for universal abolition comes in the context of several engagements expected in the coming months: the regional congress against the death penalty, in Rabat in October 2012, the new vote on the United Nations General Assembly’s biennial resolution calling for the introduction of a global moratorium in the fall of 2012, and the fifth World Congress against the Death Penalty, in Madrid in June 2013.
The fight against the death penalty is a long-term struggle in which tangible progress is made every year in all the world’s regions. In the past 20 years, more than 50 states have outlawed the death penalty. France reaffirms its determined and constant opposition to the death penalty, everywhere and under all circumstances. It commends the role of the International Commission against the Death Penalty, made up of figures of high moral standing, including the former Keeper of the Seals, Robert Badinter. Finally, France urges all states which still apply the death penalty to observe moratoriums with a view to definitive abolition.
Please, read the Press-kit,
See the video with Robert Badinter,
See the video with Christiane Taubira, Justice Minister (in French)
France candidate to the Human Rights Council
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 October 9th, 1981 abolished the death penalty in France. This law reinforced France’s longstanding efforts to promote human dignity. French law prohibits the removal of any person to a country where they risk the death penalty.
France has signed all international commitments on abolishing the death penalty. Since 2007, abolishing the death penalty has been enshrined in the French Constitution.
International Commitments within the United Nations Framework
The Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights adopted by the UN General Assembly in New York on December 15th, 1989 provides for abolishing the death penalty.
In its October 13th, 2005 decision, the French Constitutional Council indicated that in the absence of a denouncement clause regarding the Second Optional Protocol, it “violated the essential conditions for exercising national sovereignty.” Consequently, its ratification could not be ratified by Parliament until the Constitution was revised.
At the President of the Republic’s request, the abolition of the death penalty was introduced into the Fifth Republic’s Constitution by the Constitutional Law dated February 23rd, 2007. The Constitution now provides in Article 66-1 that “no one shall be sentenced to 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.
Within the Council of Europe Framework
The European Convention of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, ratified by France on May 3rd, 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.
On March 1st, 1986, France ratified the Additional Protocol No. 6 to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms which 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.”
Finally, on August 1st, 2007, Parliament approved the ratification of 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 February 1st, 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.”