Friday, May 03, 2002


Council of Europe states sign up to total death-penalty ban

VILNIUS, Lithuania - Delegates from 36 Council of Europe countries on Friday committed themselves to abolishing the death penalty in all circumstances, including during times of war.

Capital punishment already has been struck from the books in the vast majority of the 44 nations belonging to Europe's top human right's body, though some have allowed for it in extreme cases.

A protocol signed Friday established a total ban in the participating countries. Russia, Turkey, Bulgaria, Croatia, Slovakia, Albania, Armenia and Azerbaijan — declined to sign.

Russia and Turkey are the only Council of Europe states that haven't signed the original code that banned the death penalty in all cases — except during war, during the imminent threat of war and in other extreme instances.

But the two countries have refrained from carrying out executions in recent years. The last execution carried out in a Council of Europe member state was in 1997 in Ukraine.

The Council of Europe was founded in 1949 to promote democracy, human rights and the rule of law on the continent.