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“Something is wrong in a country if they feel they need the death penalty!” This is how MEP Claude Moraes (S&D) (pictured), chairman of the Committee of Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs of the European Parliament underlined the importance of the abolition of death penalty and invited to take proactive measures. He was speaking on the occasion of a debate organized at the Press Club Brussels Europe on 5 February in view of the 7th World Congress Against the Death Penalty (26 February to 1 March in Brussels).

The debate today was dealing with the conditionality of EU funds with human rights compliance in countries such as ACP countries (African Caribbean Pacific) linked to the EU by the Cotonou agreements.

According to MEP Alex Mayer (S&D), member of the Committee of Economic and monetary affairs: “As EU citizens we say ‘No’ to the death penalty and this message must be used across the world.” She added: “The EU should make it easier for authorities to block trade for example to countries which still retain the death penalty.”

Klaus Buchner, MEP (Greens, EFAG), member of the sub-committee of Human Rights, said: “In order to push through human rights it is often more effective to do it through trade.” And he added: “Before the Lomé agreement, the EU had made countries participating in it aware of the respect of human rights but it had not worked fully in some countries.”

On the issue of the respect of human rights the European Parliament is increasingly concerned that the rule of law and human rights be respected in member states. This point was endorsed at the plenary session of the European Parliament by 397 votes to 158 with 69 abstentions on Jan 17th, 2019, and is now an integral part of the 2021-2027 EU budget.

The human rights advocates would like to enlarge this principle of conditionality also to the ACP countries which are linked to the EU by the Cotonou Agreement.  The respect of the rule of law and of Union values is one of the core principles on which she was built. No government can violate those values without suffering consequences.

“Africa is moving towards the abolition of the death penalty,” concluded Moraes, adding “the dynamic in Africa is very important and we need a more proactive approach.”

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In this aim, the 7th World Congress Against the Death Penalty (26 February to 1 March) will take place in Brussels. 1,500 attendants will come from all over the world to put in place a global strategy, to federate the abolitionist movement, and encourage the involvement of the key actors.

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