Abolition of the death penalty [fr]

France is firmly opposed to the death penalty. Through its resolute commitment to universal abolition, France has become recognized as one of the main States involved in combating the death penalty.

The abolition of the death penalty is a highly symbolic cause, which highlights the universality of human rights.

The death penalty is not a useful instrument for combating crime. The loss of life in which it results is irreparable and miscarriages of justice can occur in all legal systems. The death penalty is not simply a criminal justice policy instrument, but a violation of human rights. Its application is forbidden by numerous international texts

Global support for abolition is increasing on all continents, regardless of political regimes, development levels or cultural legacy.
We are currently observing a downward trend in the number of death sentences and executions worldwide.

Abolition in France

The death penalty was abolished in France under the Act of 9 October 1981 which was born of the commitment of Robert Badinter, Minister of Justice at the time, and his speech before the National Assembly. This Act was a step forward in France’s long-standing campaign to promote human dignity.

Tomorrow, thanks to you, French justice will no longer be a justice that kills. Tomorrow, thanks to you, there will no longer be, to our common shame, stealthy executions, at dawn, under the black canopy, in the prisons of France. Tomorrow, the bloody pages in the history of our justice will have turned.

Extract of the speech given by Robert Badinter, Minister of Justice, on the abolition of the death penalty, before the National Assembly on 17 September 1981.

Under French law, it is forbidden to transfer people to a country where they could face the death penalty.

The abolition of the death penalty was incorporated into the Constitution of the Fifth Republic by the Constitutional Act of 23 February 2007. The Constitution now stipulates, in Article 66-1, that “no one shall be sentenced to death”.

The death penalty around the world

Today, over two thirds of the world’s countries have abolished the death penalty in law or in practice. Year after year, we are observing a downward trend in the number of death sentences and executions worldwide. Over the past 20 years, more than 50 states have abolished it in law.

In 2021,

  • 106 States have abolished the death penalty for all crimes,
  • 8 have abolished the death penalty for ordinary crimes,
  • 50 have introduced a moratorium on executions, whether by law or in practice,

for a total of 164 States.

However, the death penalty is still applied in 54 states and territories.

More information on the website of the French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs..

Latest modification 05/10/2021

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