Capital punishment in Europe

Capital punishment in Europe

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The death penalty
Capital punishment
Capital punishment, the death penalty, or execution is the sentence of death upon a person by the state as a punishment for an offence. Crimes that can result in a death penalty are known as capital crimes or capital offences. The term capital originates from the Latin capitalis, literally...

 has been abolished in almost all Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

an countries (48 out of 50). The moratorium on the death penalty is enshrined in both the Charter of Fundamental Rights
Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union
The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union enshrines certain political, social, and economic rights for European Union citizens and residents, into EU law. It was drafted by the European Convention and solemnly proclaimed on 7 December 2000 by the European Parliament, the Council of...

 of the European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

 (EU) and the European Convention on Human Rights
European Convention on Human Rights
The Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms is an international treaty to protect human rights and fundamental freedoms in Europe. Drafted in 1950 by the then newly formed Council of Europe, the convention entered into force on 3 September 1953...

 of the Council of Europe
Council of Europe
The Council of Europe is an international organisation promoting co-operation between all countries of Europe in the areas of legal standards, human rights, democratic development, the rule of law and cultural co-operation...

, and thus considered a central value. Of all modern European countries, San Marino
San Marino
San Marino, officially the Republic of San Marino , is a state situated on the Italian Peninsula on the eastern side of the Apennine Mountains. It is an enclave surrounded by Italy. Its size is just over with an estimated population of over 30,000. Its capital is the City of San Marino...

 and Portugal
Portugal
Portugal , officially the Portuguese Republic is a country situated in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South and by Spain to the North and East. The Atlantic archipelagos of the...

 were the first to abolish and only Belarus
Belarus
Belarus , officially the Republic of Belarus, is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe, bordered clockwise by Russia to the northeast, Ukraine to the south, Poland to the west, and Lithuania and Latvia to the northwest. Its capital is Minsk; other major cities include Brest, Grodno , Gomel ,...

 still practices capital punishment. Latvia
Latvia
Latvia , officially the Republic of Latvia , is a country in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by Estonia , to the south by Lithuania , to the east by the Russian Federation , to the southeast by Belarus and shares maritime borders to the west with Sweden...

 was the last EU Member State to abolish capital punishment in war times.

Abolition



Abolition has been common in European history, but has only been a real trend since the end of the Second World War when human rights
Human rights
Human rights are "commonly understood as inalienable fundamental rights to which a person is inherently entitled simply because she or he is a human being." Human rights are thus conceived as universal and egalitarian . These rights may exist as natural rights or as legal rights, in both national...

 became a particular priority. The European Convention on Human Rights
European Convention on Human Rights
The Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms is an international treaty to protect human rights and fundamental freedoms in Europe. Drafted in 1950 by the then newly formed Council of Europe, the convention entered into force on 3 September 1953...

 was adopted in 1950 but some countries took many years to ratify it. The United Kingdom retained the death penalty for high treason
High treason
High treason is criminal disloyalty to one's government. Participating in a war against one's native country, attempting to overthrow its government, spying on its military, its diplomats, or its secret services for a hostile and foreign power, or attempting to kill its head of state are perhaps...

 until 1998 (William Joyce
William Joyce
William Joyce , nicknamed Lord Haw-Haw, was an Irish-American fascist politician and Nazi propaganda broadcaster to the United Kingdom during the Second World War. He was hanged for treason by the British as a result of his wartime activities, even though he had renounced his British nationality...

 was the last person to be put to death for high treason in the UK, on 3 January 1946).

Latvia
Latvia
Latvia , officially the Republic of Latvia , is a country in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by Estonia , to the south by Lithuania , to the east by the Russian Federation , to the southeast by Belarus and shares maritime borders to the west with Sweden...

 was the latest country (2011) to ratify protocol 13 in abolishing the penalty for all crimes. Azerbaijan and Russia have not signed protocol 13, while Armenia, and Poland have signed but not yet ratified. All have, however, abolished the death penalty.

A moratorium on death penalty has been in place in Russia until Jan 1, 2010. According to the Nov 19, 2009, decision of the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation the death penalty shall not be practiced in Russia at any time before the ratification of the above mentioned protocol. The Constitutional Court has also clarified that the decision is not an extension of the moratorium, but the abolition of the capital punishment since it will be no longer possible to practice it legally.

2009 was the first year that no one was executed anywhere in Europe, however in March 2010 Belarus
Belarus
Belarus , officially the Republic of Belarus, is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe, bordered clockwise by Russia to the northeast, Ukraine to the south, Poland to the west, and Lithuania and Latvia to the northwest. Its capital is Minsk; other major cities include Brest, Grodno , Gomel ,...

 executed the last two people on its death row.

The European Union (EU) has long since been against the death penalty, supporting the European Convention, and its 2000 Charter of Fundamental Rights
Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union
The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union enshrines certain political, social, and economic rights for European Union citizens and residents, into EU law. It was drafted by the European Convention and solemnly proclaimed on 7 December 2000 by the European Parliament, the Council of...

 included an absolute ban on the death penalty in all circumstances. The Charter has been made legally binding by the Treaty of Lisbon
Treaty of Lisbon
The Treaty of Lisbon of 1668 was a peace treaty between Portugal and Spain, concluded at Lisbon on 13 February 1668, through the mediation of England, in which Spain recognized the sovereignty of Portugal's new ruling dynasty, the House of Braganza....

 as it got fully ratified and effective on December 1, 2009. The treaty also has a provision for the EU to join the Council of Europe and accede to the European Convention on Human Rights. The EU has been an active promoter of abolition worldwide and has been promoting a UN convention against it, however some national governments such as Poland have opposed such moves.
Country Method Year of last use (peacetime) Abolished (peacetime) Year of last use (wartime) Abolished (wartime)
  Albania
Capital punishment in Albania
The last execution of a civilian carried out in Albania was a hanging on 29 June 1995. While capital punishment was abolished for murder on 1 October 2000, it was still retained for treason and military offences. The reason for the abolition of the death penalty in Albania as well as in other...

 
Hanging
Hanging
Hanging is the lethal suspension of a person by a ligature. The Oxford English Dictionary states that hanging in this sense is "specifically to put to death by suspension by the neck", though it formerly also referred to crucifixion and death by impalement in which the body would remain...

 
1995 2000 ? 2007
  Andorra
Capital punishment in Andorra
Antoni Areny was the last man to be executed in Andorra. He was shot by a firing squad for the murder of his two brothers on 18 October 1943. Capital punishment was abolished in Andorra in 1990 and Protocol No. 6 to the ECHR came into force on 1 February 1996....

 
Firing squad
Execution by firing squad
Execution by firing squad, sometimes called fusillading , is a method of capital punishment, particularly common in the military and in times of war.Execution by shooting is a fairly old practice...

 
1943 1990 ? 1996?
  Armenia
Capital punishment in Armenia
The last execution in Armenia took place on the 30 August 1991; it was carried out by a single bullet. Death penalty remained a legal punishment for murder, treason, and serious crimes of a military nature, until its abolition in 2003....

 
Single shot
Execution by shooting
Execution by shooting is a form of capital punishment whereby an executed person is shot by one or more firearms. It is the most common method of execution worldwide, used in about 70 countries, with execution by firing squad being one particular form...

 
1991 2003 ? -
  Austria
Capital punishment in Austria
The method of execution in Austria was hanging until the annexation by the Third Reich when it was replaced by guillotine. After World War II hanging was re-introduced by the British. The last person to be executed in Austria was Johann Trnka. He was hanged on march 24th, 1950 for the crime of...

 
Hanging 1950 1950 ? 1968?
  Azerbaijan
Capital punishment in Azerbaijan
The last execution took place in Azerbaijan in 1993 by method of single shot. Capital punishment was abolished in 1998. Protocol No. 6 to the ECHR came into force in this country on the 25th of January 2001.-References:*...

 
Single shot 1993 1998 ? -
  Belarus
Capital punishment in Belarus
The provision for Capital Punishment in Belarus has been a part of the country since gaining independence from the Soviet Union. The current national constitution prescribes this punishment for "grave crimes." Later laws have clarified the specific crimes for which capital punishment can be used...

 
Single shot 2010 - 2010 -
  Belgium
Capital punishment in Belgium
Capital punishment in Belgium was formally abolished on August 1, 1996 for all crimes, in both peacetime and wartime. The last execution for crimes committed in peacetime took place in July 1863, when in Ypres a farmer was executed for murder...

 
Guillotine
Guillotine
The guillotine is a device used for carrying out :executions by decapitation. It consists of a tall upright frame from which an angled blade is suspended. This blade is raised with a rope and then allowed to drop, severing the head from the body...

 
1863 1996 1950 1996
  Bosnia and Herzegovina
Capital punishment in Bosnia and Herzegovina
Capital punishment in Bosnia and Herzegovina was abolished for all crimes in November 1998 in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and on 2000-06-21 in the Republika Srpska.-References:*...

 
? 1975 2000 ? 2000?
  Bulgaria
Capital punishment in Bulgaria
Capital punishment in Bulgaria was abolished on December 12, 1998 with the last execution having been carried out by firing squad on November 4, 1989. The Parliament of Bulgaria had introduced a moratorium on July 7, 1990 and protocol number six of the European Convention on Human Rights came into...

 
Firing squad 1989 1998 ? 1998?
  Croatia
Capital punishment in Croatia
Capital punishment in Croatia was abolished in 1990, when it was explicitly outlawed by article 21 of the new Constitution.Hanging was replaced by firing squads in 1959 in Yugoslavia with the last execution in 1987. Protocol number six of the European Convention on Human Rights came into force on...

 
Firing squad 1973 1990 ? 1997?
  Cyprus
Capital punishment in Cyprus
Capital punishment for murder was abolished in Cyprus on 15 December 1983. It was abolished for all crimes on 19 April 2002. Cyprus is a signatory of the second optional protocol of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which provides for full abolition of capital punishment...

 
Hanging 1962 2002 ? 2002?
  Czech Republic
Capital punishment in the Czech Republic
Capital punishment was legal and used in Czechoslovakia until abolition in 1990. The last exeution was carried out in 1989...

 
Hanging 1989 1990 ? 1990?
  Denmark
Capital punishment in Denmark
Capital punishment in Denmark has been entirely abolished in peace-time since 1930 and for war crimes since 1978 . The last peace-time execution was carried out in 1892, but followed by executions during the World War II purges in 1945-50. Reinstitution of capital punishment is not supported by...

 
Firing squad 1892 1930 1950 1994
  Estonia
Capital punishment in Estonia
In Estonia the last execution took place on the 11th of September 1991 when Rein Oruste was shot with a bullet to the back of the head for the crime of murder. The death penalty was completely abolished in Estonia on the 18th of March 1998 when Protocol No...

 
Single shot 1991 1998 ? 1998?
  Finland
Capital punishment in Finland
Capital punishment in Finland has been abolished de jure.As of 1823 in the Grand Duchy of Finland, death sentences were commuted to transportation to Siberia or life sentences. The last person to be executed in peacetime was Tahvo Putkonen, on July 8, 1825...

 
Beheading
Decapitation
Decapitation is the separation of the head from the body. Beheading typically refers to the act of intentional decapitation, e.g., as a means of murder or execution; it may be accomplished, for example, with an axe, sword, knife, wire, or by other more sophisticated means such as a guillotine...

 
1825 1949 1944 1972
  France
Capital punishment in France
Capital punishment was practiced in France from the Middle Ages until 1977, when the last execution took place by guillotine, being the only legal method since the French Revolution. The last person to be executed in France was Hamida Djandoubi, who was put to death in September 1977. The death...

 
Guillotine 1977 1981 ? 2002
  Georgia
Capital punishment in Georgia (country)
The death penalty in Georgia was completely abolished on the May 1, 2000 when Protocol No. 6 to the ECHR was signed. Later Georgia also adopted the Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR....

 
Single shot 1995 2000 ? 2000
  Nazi Germany   Germany
Capital punishment in Germany
Capital punishment was abolished in West Germany in 1949 and East Germany in 1987.-Legal position:The current Constitution of Germany , which came into effect on 23rd May, 1949, forbids capital punishment...

 
Guillotine, Hanging, Firing Squad 1949 1949 1945 1949
  East Germany
Capital punishment in Germany
Capital punishment was abolished in West Germany in 1949 and East Germany in 1987.-Legal position:The current Constitution of Germany , which came into effect on 23rd May, 1949, forbids capital punishment...

 
Guillotine, Single shot 1981 1987 1945 1987
  Greece
Capital punishment in Greece
In Greece the last execution took place on the 25th of August 1972. The 27 year old Vassilis Lymberis was shot by firing squad for the murder of his wife, mother-in-law and two children on the island of Crete....

 
Firing Squad 1972 1975 ? 2004
  Hungary
Capital punishment in Hungary
In Hungary the last man was hanged for the crime of murder on the 31st of May 1988. Capital punishment was completely abolished on the 31st of October 1990 by the Constitutional Court . A month later on the 1st of December 1990 protocol No. 6 to the ECHR came into force. Hungary later adopted the...

 
Hanging 1988 1990 ? ?
  Iceland
Capital punishment in Iceland
The medieval Icelandic Commonwealth , having no central executive powers, did not apply capital punishment. It was, however, possible for the Althing to declare a man réttdræpur...

 
? 1830 1928 ? 1995?
  Ireland
Capital punishment in Ireland
Capital punishment has been abolished in the Republic of Ireland. The last execution was in 1954. From then until 1990 while capital punishment remained on the statute book, a practice arose whereby every sentence of death was commuted by the Irish president...

 
Hanging 1954 1990 1922 2002
  Italy
Capital punishment in Italy
The use of capital punishment in Italy has been banned since 1889, with the exception of the period 1926-1947. When Italy was unified in 1860, capital punishment had been allowed in almost all pre-unitarian states, except for Tuscany...

 
Firing Squad 1947 1948 ? 1994
  Latvia
Capital punishment in Latvia
Latvia was the last country of the European Union to retain capital punishment for murder, however only during wartime.Latvia regained independence in 1991 after fall of the Soviet Union. Subsequently the death penalty in civilian cases was reserved for murder and the only method of executions, as...

Shooting 1996 1999 ? 2011
  Liechtenstein
Capital punishment in Liechtenstein
Capital punishment has been completely abolished in Liechtenstein. The last execution occurred in the year 1785. For treason, the death penalty was abolished in 1989, while the penalty was abolished in 1987 for murder.-References:...

 
? 1785 1989 ? ?
 Lithuania Shooting 1995 1996 ? ?
  Malta
Capital punishment in Malta
Capital punishment for murder was abolished in Malta in 1971. It continued to be part of the country's military code until it was fully abolished on 21 March 2000. Malta is a signatory of the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights that commits it to...

 
Hanging ? 1971 1943 2000
  Netherlands
Capital punishment in the Netherlands
Capital punishment in the Netherlands was first abolished in 1870, though only in criminal law, by the Dutch justice minister Van Lilaar. Following the abolition of the death penalty, life imprisonment was made an official punishment in 1878...

 
Hanging 1860 1878 1952 1983
  Norway
Capital punishment in Norway
Capital punishment in Norway was abolished in peacetime with the criminal law that was passed in 1902 with enforcement beginning in 1905. Capital punishment was also abolished in times of war in 1979....

 
1876 1902 1948 1979
  Poland
Capital punishment in Poland
Capital punishment remained in Polish law until April 1, 1998, but from 1989 there was a moratorium on executions, with the last execution taking place one year earlier...

 
Hanging 1988 1998 ? -
  Portugal
Capital punishment in Portugal
Capital punishment has been utterly abolished in Portugal, as in every other member state of the European Union.The method of capital punishment used in Portugal was by hanging....

 
Hanging, Garrotte, Firing squad 1846 1867 1918? 1976
  Romania
Capital punishment in Romania
Capital punishment in Romania was abolished in 1989, and has been prohibited by the Constitution of Romania since 1991.-Antecedents:The death penalty has a long and varied history in present-day Romania. Vlad III the Impaler was notorious for executing thousands by impalement...

 
Firing Squad 1989 1990 ? 1991
  Russia
Capital punishment in Russia
Capital punishment in Russia is currently under question, albeit legally allowed . There exists both an implicit moratorium established by the President and an explicit one, established by the nation's highest court. Russia has not executed anyone since 1996, and the regulations of the Council of...

 
Shooting 1996 2009 never used 2009
  San Marino
Capital punishment in San Marino
Capital punishment is no longer applied in San Marino. The last execution was carried out in 1468, by hanging. San Marino is one of only two countries in the world to have carried out no executions since before 1800 - the other being Liechtenstein, where the last execution took place in 1785.San...

 
? 1468 1876 ? ?
  Serbia
Capital punishment in Serbia
Serbia and Montenegro abolished death penalty for all crimes, in February 2002....

 
? 1992 2001 ? 2001
  Slovenia
Capital punishment in Slovenia
In Slovenia the last execution was a hanging which took place in 1957. The death penalty was abolished in 1989 when Slovenia was still a federal republic of the former Yugoslavia. When Slovenia introduced its democratic constitution on the 23 December 1991 capital punishment became...

 
Hanging 1957 1989 ? 1991
 Spain Garrote, Firing squad 1975 1978 ? 2009
  Sweden
Capital punishment in Sweden
Capital punishment in Sweden was practiced up until 1910. It is now outlawed by the Swedish Constitution which clearly states that capital punishment, corporal punishment, and torture is strictly prohibited.- Dates for abolishment of the death penalty :...

 
Guillotine 1910 1921 ? 1973
  Switzerland
Capital punishment in Switzerland
Capital punishment is forbidden in Switzerland by article 10, paragraph 1 of the Swiss Federal Constitution. It was abolished from federal criminal law in 1942, but remained available in military criminal law until 1992.-Use until 1937:...

 
Beheading 1940 1942 1945? 1992
  Turkey
Capital punishment in Turkey
As of 2004, Turkey does not have capital punishment. Since October 1984, Turkey has not executed any prisoners. Prior to that date executions would usually happen after military interventions. Adnan Menderes, who served as Prime Minister was hanged on 17 September 1961 following the 1960 coup...

 
Hanging 1984 2002 ? 2004
  United Kingdom
Capital punishment in the United Kingdom
Capital punishment in the United Kingdom was used from the creation of the state in 1707 until the practice was abolished in the 20th century. The last executions in the United Kingdom, by hanging, took place in 1964, prior to capital punishment being abolished for murder...

 
Hanging 1964 1965 ? 1998
  Vatican City
Capital punishment in Vatican City
Capital punishment in Vatican City was legal between 1929 and 1969, reserved for attempted assassination of the Pope, although the Vatican City has never carried out an execution...

 
? ? 1969 1870 ?

Retentionist states


Belarus is the only European state to still execute its criminals. A Belarus court on November 30 convicted and sentenced to death two men for a bomb attack in the Minsk subway in April 2011 that killed 15 people and wounded around 200 others.

Russia has signed but not ratified Protocol No. 6 to the European Convention on Human Rights
European Convention on Human Rights
The Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms is an international treaty to protect human rights and fundamental freedoms in Europe. Drafted in 1950 by the then newly formed Council of Europe, the convention entered into force on 3 September 1953...

 (abolition in peacetime). The Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation effectively abolished capital punishment on November 19, 2009.

In addition, the two unrecognized states of Transnistria
Transnistria
Transnistria is a breakaway territory located mostly on a strip of land between the Dniester River and the eastern Moldovan border to Ukraine...

 and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus
Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus
Northern Cyprus or North Cyprus , officially the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus , is a self-declared state that comprises the northeastern part of the island of Cyprus...

 have not abolished the death penalty and are blocked from the Council of Europe. However, neither has executed anyone to date.
  • Capital punishment in Russia
    Capital punishment in Russia
    Capital punishment in Russia is currently under question, albeit legally allowed . There exists both an implicit moratorium established by the President and an explicit one, established by the nation's highest court. Russia has not executed anyone since 1996, and the regulations of the Council of...

  • Capital punishment in Belarus
    Capital punishment in Belarus
    The provision for Capital Punishment in Belarus has been a part of the country since gaining independence from the Soviet Union. The current national constitution prescribes this punishment for "grave crimes." Later laws have clarified the specific crimes for which capital punishment can be used...


See also

  • Country-specific details on executions in European nations
  • Capital punishment abolitionism
  • European Court of Human Rights
    European Court of Human Rights
    The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg is a supra-national court established by the European Convention on Human Rights and hears complaints that a contracting state has violated the human rights enshrined in the Convention and its protocols. Complaints can be brought by individuals or...


External links