Dáil Éireann - Volume 514 - 16 February, 2000
Written Answers. - Capital Punishment.
Mr. Higgins (Mayo) Mr. Higgins (Mayo)
37. Mr. Higgins (Mayo) asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he has recently raised the continuing use of the death penalty in the US with the American Administration. [4282/00]
Mr. Cowen Mr. Cowen
Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Cowen): The Government is totally opposed to the use of the  death penalty. We believe its abolition contributes to the enhancement of human dignity and the progressive development of human rights. I will, therefore, avail of every suitable opportunity to press for this.
In June 1998, common guidelines for EU initiatives on the issue of the death penalty were agreed and adopted by EU Foreign Ministers. These guidelines state that, where the death penalty still exists, the EU will continue to press for its use to be progressively restricted and for moratoria to be introduced. A declaration by the Presidency on behalf of the European Union welcoming the introduction of a moratorium on executions in the US state of Illinois was recently issued. In addition to interventions on the use of the death penalty in principle, it has also been agreed that, where individual cases violate basic minimum standards, the Union will consider making a specific intervention. It is our strongly held belief that an EU intervention carries greater force than individual bilateral approaches by national Governments.
Following the adoption of these guidelines, the EU's collective efforts have continued to focus on promoting universal abolition of the death penalty. We have pressed for abolition and have issued démarches on the use of the death penalty in a number of countries, including the United States.
The EU, with the full support of Ireland, recently made humanitarian appeals for the commutation of the death sentences of a number of individuals in the US, including on behalf of Mr. Douglas C. Thomas who was executed on 10 January, and Mr. Steve Roach, who was executed on 15 January. Consideration is currently being given within the EU to ways in which the EU approach to the death penalty in the US might be more effective. Ireland is playing a full part in these considerations.
Discussion is at an advanced stage within the EU on tabling a resolution on the question of the death penalty at the forthcoming 56th session of the UN Commission on Human Rights. Ireland will work to ensure maximum support for this resolution.
Dáil Éireann 514 Written Answers. Capital Punishment.