EU. POLAND DEATH PENALTY PLAN CONDEMNED
August 3, 2006: Europe's main human rights watchdog told Polish President Lech Kaczynski his support for restoring the death penalty was an attack on European values and would breach Poland's treaty obligations.
"In our view, the death penalty has no place in the criminal justice system of any modern, civilised country," Rene van der Linden, President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, said in an open letter to Kaczynski.
The letter followed comments from the conservative Kaczynski on Polish radio last week, expressing support for the death penalty in cases of murder.
On August 2, the European Commission rejected Kaczynski's views as incompatible with European values.
Van der Linden said restoration of the death penalty, which was abolished in Poland soon after the fall of communism in 1989, "would constitute a flagrant breach of a country's obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights".
"Its reintroduction would thus be completely incompatible with membership of our organisation."
Kaczynski, whose twin brother Jaroslaw is prime minister, has taken no formal steps to reintroduce the death penalty but junior coalition partner, the nationalist League of Polish Families, has said it will push for a referendum on the issue.
Van der Linden said the abolition of the death penalty in Europe had been one of the Strasbourg-based Council of Europe's greatest achievements and was one of its central policies.
He said the Parliamentary Assembly, made up of deputies from across Europe, would continue to follow developments closely.
"In the light of these concerns, I hope that you will now see fit to reconsider your position and to retract your proposal," he said. (Sources: Reuters, 03/08/2006)