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Statement by Iceland on the abolition of the death penalty

Council of Europe, Committee of Ministers, 1413th meeting of the Ministers' Deputies. Statement delivered by Ambassador Ragnhildur Arnljótsdóttir.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

We welcome these regular exchanges of views on the abolition of the death penalty and reiterate our strong opposition to the death penalty in all circumstances. The death penalty cannot be reconciled with full respect for the right to life and its abolition has elevated human dignity and advanced human rights.

Today, more than two-thirds of the countries in the world have abolished the death penalty in law or practice. The case of Europe illustrates the fundamental role played by regional and multilateral organizations in advancing the cause of abolition and the Council of Europe and the European Convention on Human Rights have acted as catalysts for this regional trend.

If the history of the abolition in our various countries has taught us anything, it is that the path is long and hard. Capital punishment was not repealed overnight. Its abolition became a reality only because of increasing awareness and constant collective effort. Here we welcome the readiness of the Council of Europe to share its experience on the abolition of the death penalty with its observer States and those States covered by the policy of the Council of Europe towards neighboring regions.

Mr. Chair, we strongly call on all States that have not yet abolished the death penalty to take a stand on the right side of history and join the international trend towards abolition. We also call on those Council of Europe members who have not yet signed and/or ratified Protocols number 6 and 13 to the Convention to do so without further delay.

I thank you.

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