« "Against Life Without Parole" | Main | Interesting report touts the potential economicy benefits of restoring felon voting rights in Florida »

May 22, 2018

Updated archive of European Union engagement concerning death penalty in the United States

I have the great honor and pleasure of talking today about the application of the death penalty in Ohio to a delegation of the European Union to the United States. Prior to the meeting, the EU delegation drew my attention to this online archive of (past) EU engagement in the US on death penalty.

This archive includes letters of appeal, official statements and the link, and it has been recently modified to update all the links, going back 18 years. Here is the description that sets up the links that follow:

The EU unconditionally supports the right to life and the right not to be subject to cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment or punishment— standards recognized in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, other international human rights agreements, and many national constitutions.

Abolition of the death penalty is a prerequisite for EU membership, and the European Union actively promotes a global moratorium on the use of the death penalty and protests against the practice in individual cases throughout the world.  The EU has insisted that bilateral extradition treaties with non-EU countries automatically preclude the use of the death penalty in all cases of extradited prisoners from EU Member States.

As a global leader in the fight against torture and other forms of ill treatment, the EU works to prevent and eliminate torture and to end the impunity of those responsible.  Through its Guidelines on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment, the EU strives to persuade non-EU countries to produce and apply effective measures to outlaw torture.  The EU also champions anti-torture initiatives in international forums, consistently raises its concerns with other countries through political dialogue and bilateral initiatives, and provides substantial funding for relevant projects by civil society organizations.

May 22, 2018 at 11:38 AM | Permalink


I doubt they understood or empathized with the rationale .... and why would they. Good that you have had the contact however.

Posted by: peter | May 22, 2018 12:16:37 PM

Prof. Berman. Were you proud, ashamed, or neutral about the death penalty in Ohio? Here is your opportunity to divulge your personal feelings. Not that interested in advocacy or policy arguments, just in your personal feelings.

Posted by: David Behar | May 22, 2018 3:25:33 PM

I have long been personally ambivalent about the death penalty, David, though I have long believed it would be wise for various reasons to limit its application to adult murderers indisputably guilty of intentionally killing at least two or more persons.

Posted by: Doug B | May 22, 2018 9:15:32 PM

Prof. Berman. Is it fair to categorize this feeling about the death penalty as retributionist, with its proportionality? Is it fair to say, you do not want public outrage to be a factor, for example, in the sexual abuse, torture for sexual gratification, and murder of one little girl? These questions are not to trick anyone, nor to disagree, but to clarify. You already know my views.

Posted by: David Behar | May 23, 2018 9:23:25 AM

No, David, I have no retributivist feelings whatsoever, and I think public outrage channeled through politics and legal reform is what we call democracy. My personal and political philosophy tends toward a consequentialist/Aristotlean vision of the human good to be maximized. That vision, influenced by my strong (historically contingent) commitment to democracy as a great modern means toward enhancing consequentialist/Aristotlean ends, makes me ambivalent about the death penalty, especially in cases in which there is only one victim (which will be cases that are more likely to raise questions about the guilt and/or motivations of the killer).

Posted by: Doug B | May 23, 2018 10:31:11 AM

Thank you. You are making me look things up.

Posted by: David Behar | May 23, 2018 10:41:32 AM

Post a comment

In the body of your email, please indicate if you are a professor, student, prosecutor, defense attorney, etc. so I can gain a sense of who is reading my blog. Thank you, DAB