Can we reconcile the very idea of protecting human rights with the possibility for a State to kill some of its detainees in the name of justice? Although it seems contradictory, international human rights law, based on international protection texts and mechanisms for monitoring these texts, does not prohibit the supreme punishment of the death penalty. At best, this right establishes a framework relating to its use, so that it can only be imposed for the most serious crimes and following a fair trial. For the moment, only a minority of States has embarked on the path of abolition by ratifying truly abolitionist international treaties. Yet decried as a violation of the right to life as well as the right not to undergo inhuman or degrading treatment by supporters of abolitionism, the death penalty therefore presents itself from a general point of view as a legal exception to recognition of a positive right to life. Faced with this deadlock, the United Nations as well as the European Union and the Council of Europe have taken up the issue of the death penalty and have made it a recurring topic of discussion in their forums, by multiplying the recommendations aimed at to further regulate its use, even to promote its abolition. However, going beyond the simple stage of discourse and integrating the requirement of abolition into concrete actions - such as peacekeeping operations or the signing of trade agreements with partner states - turns out to be difficult in these actions have so far only rarely resulted in the abolition of the death penalty in the states concerned. Inventory of contemporary positive international law relating to capital punishment, this work presents the texts, the jurisprudence and the actions of international organizations on this question which continues to generate the most heated debates at the international level.
|Translated title of the contribution||International Law and the Death Penalty|
|Number of pages||320|
|Publication status||Published - 16 Jul 2008|