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Government to ratify Protocols abolishing death penalty

Last week saw the first reading of the government-sponsored bills on the President’s consent to the ratification of two Protocols completely abolishing the death penalty: the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and Protocol 13 to the European Convention on Human Rights which forbids the death penalty, even in times of war.

The first reading was held on 10 July 2013, during a joint session of the Sejm Committee for Justice and Human Rights and the Foreign Affairs Committee. A representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, speaking on behalf of the Council of Ministers, informed that the Government did not intend to submit any reservations to the ratified protocols.

According to the statement of reasons to the draft law ratifying the Second Optional Protocol, during the UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review Poland has for many times expressed an intention to ratify the instrument. Apart from Poland, there are only three countries (Guinea, Madagascar and São Tomé and Príncipe) which have signed the Second Optional Protocol but are yet to ratify it.

Poland is one of the last Council of Europe member states who have not yet acceded to Protocol 13 to the ECHR prohibiting the use of the capital penalty even in times of war. Poland has been already admonished on that account. In October 2012 the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers’ Deputies reminded Poland and Armenia, the last two countries who failed to ratify the Protocol, of a need to ratify the instrument. The Committee also urged the last CoE member states who have not become signatories of the Protocol, Azerbaijan and Russia, to sign the instrument.

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