Macron calls for worldwide end to death penalty on 40th anniversary of French abolition

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French President Emmanuel Macron commemorated the 40th anniversary of the abolition of the death penalty in France at the Pantheon on Saturday, vowing to "relaunch the fight for the universal abolition" of capital punishment.

Describing the death penalty as an "abomination", the French president said he would convene a summit next year to press for capital punishment to be abolished worldwide.

"As part of the French presidency of the European Union (in the first half of 2022), we will organise, with the NGO Ensemble contre la peine de mort (Together against the death penalty), a meeting in Paris at the highest level, bringing together civil societies from countries that still apply the death penalty [...], in order to convince their leaders of the importance and urgency of abolishing it," he said.

Macron recalled that, in 1981, France had been "the 35th state to abolish the death penalty". He added: "106 states have so far taken this path, while 50 others have a de jure or de facto moratorium on executions."

But he noted with regret that "483 executions" were carried out worldwide in 2020, adding that the number was "almost certainly an underestimate". He described the executions as, "483 state killings carried out by 33 regimes that mostly share a taste for despotism, a rejection of the universality of human rights."

Macron was speaking 40 years to the day France formally abolished the death penalty, under then Socialist president François Mitterrand.

To mark the anniversary, former justice minister Robert Badinter, the architect of the abolition of capital punishment in France, gave an impassioned speech alongside Macron, calling for universal abolition.

“I want to share with you my absolute conviction that the death penalty must disappear from the entire world as it is a shame for humanity," he said. "The death penalty does not protect society, it dishonours it."

>> Robert Badinter, the lawyer who fought to end the death penalty in France

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