Death Penalty

Macron vows to fight for end of death penalty globally on 40th anniversary of French abolition

Robert Badinter, Minister of Justice is interviewed as he leaves the Council of Ministers on the bill to abolish the death penalty, on August 26, 1981, in Paris.
Robert Badinter, Minister of Justice is interviewed as he leaves the Council of Ministers on the bill to abolish the death penalty, on August 26, 1981, in Paris. AFP - MICHEL CLEMENT

Emmanuel Macron announced on Saturday that France would "relaunch the fight for the universal abolition" of the death penalty by organising a "meeting at the highest level" to "convince" the leaders of countries still applying it of "the urgency of abolishing it".


 "I am telling you on this the 9th of October 2021 that France will relaunch the fight for [its] universal abolition," the head of state said in a speech at the Pantheon in Paris to mark the 40th anniversary of the abolition of the death penalty in France.  

He said that as part of the French presidency of the European Union, in the first half of 2022, France would organise in Paris with the NGO Ensemble Contre la Peine de Mort, a meeting at the highest level bringing together civil societies of those states still applying the death penalty in order to convince their leaders of the importance and urgency of abolishing it.  

Before him, Robert Badinter, the former Minister of Justice who had abolished the death penalty in 1981, had stated his "absolute conviction: the death penalty is destined to disappear in the world because it is a disgrace to humanity".

"It does not defend society, it dishonours it", he added in a firm voice under the dome of the Pantheon. "Long live universal abolition," he concluded. 

French abolition

Emmanuel Macron recalled that, in 1981, France had been "the 35th State to abolish the death penalty". "106 States have so far taken this path, while 50 others have a de jure or de facto moratorium on executions," he said.  

However, he deplored the fact that "483, certainly an underestimated number, executions" had been carried out worldwide in 2020.

"483 state murders administered by 33 political regimes, most of which share a taste for despotism and a rejection of the universality of human rights," he said.

The death penalty is still in force in China, the United States and India.  

After the speech,Macron and Badinter visited the exhibition Un combat capital, which traces the history of the political fight for the abolition of the death penalty in France, from the 18th century to the present day.  

Among the 200 guests who took their seats under the dome of the Panthéon were prime minister Jean Castex, justice minister Éric Dupond-Moretti, the presidents of the National Assembly Richard Ferrand and the Senate Gérard Larcher, as well as former collaborators and ministers of François Mitterrand such as Pierre Joxe, Hubert Védrine and Jean-Louis Bianco. Members of the Badinter family were also present.  

The bill on the abolition of the death penalty was adopted by the National Assembly on the 18th of September 1981, four months after François Mitterrand's election to the Élysée Palace, and then on 30 September by the senators. The scrapping of the guillotine was promulgated on 9 October 1981.  

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