brushes off Polish call to bring back death
The European Commission has rebuffed
a call by the Polish president for an EU-wide
debate on reinstating the death penalty. “The
death penalty is not compatible with European
values,” a commission spokesman said in Brussels.
Polish president Lech Kaczynski
argued last Friday that “countries that give
up this penalty award an unimaginable advantage
to the criminal over his victim, the advantage
of life over death.”
“I think that over time Europe
will change its view in this regard,” he told
Polish public radio. The rightist Law and Justice
party, led by twin brothers Lech and Jaroslaw
Kaczynski, won elections last September, with
Lech becoming Polish president and Jaroslaw
taking over as prime minister in July.
In the meantime, the League of
Polish Families, a nationalist minority party
in Poland’s governing coalition, launched a
campaign for a partial restoration of the death
“We want to collect half-a-million
signatures of EU citizens on a petition demanding
the death penalty for pedophile murderers,”
the vice-president of the party, Wojciech Wierzejski,
said according to press reports. The League
has been criticized by the European Parliament,
which said in a June resolution that it was
to blame for a rise in xenophobia in Poland.
It said that the League’s leaders “incite people
to hatred and violence.”
The abolition of the death penalty
is part of the human rights criteria of EU membership.
Most western European countries abandoned the
death penalty in the 1960’s, while central and
eastern European states did so in the 1990’s.
Poland abolished capital punishment in 1997,
following a nine-year moratorium on executions
imposed in 1988.