Judge’s Death Penalty Remarks “Deeply Misguided and Frivolous”, says ICCL

Ireland’s leading rights watchdog, the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) has dismissed as “deeply misguided and frivolous”, remarks by a retired judge that the use of the death penalty in Ireland might be “revisited”.

Speaking in response to remarks attributed to the former president of the High Court, ICCL Director Mr Mark Kelly said:

“The death penalty is unlawful in every European Union and every Council of Europe State. If Ireland wished to re-introduce the death penalty, it could do so only at the cost of renouncing its membership of the European Union and the Council of Europe.”

“As a matter of law, it is deeply misguided for a retired judge to suggest that it is within the realms of possibility that the use of the death penalty in Ireland could be revisited. This would seem to be a frivolous suggestion by a judge noted for his wit. It stands about as much chance of provoking a serious debate on the death penalty as the recent Channel 4 programme, The Execution of Gary Glitter”, Mr Kelly added.

Mark Kelly is available for interview and further comment.

For more information, please contact:

Walter Jayawardene
Campaigns and Communications Officer
Irish Council for Civil Liberties
9-13 Blackhall Place
Dublin 7

Tel. + 353 1 799 4504
Mob: +353 87 9981574

E-mail: walter.jayawardene@iccl.ie

Note to editors

On 2 May 2002, Ireland signed and ratified Protocol No. 13 to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. This Protocol, which entered into force on 1 July 2003, abolishes the death penalty in all circumstances in those states party to it including any execution by the state in time of war or threat of war.

Ireland was one of the first European states to ratify the Protocol, which completely forbids the taking of human life by the state.

The people of Ireland, in a referendum held 7 June 2001, voted in favour of the Twenty-First Amendment to the Constitution which allowed references to the death penalty to be removed from the Irish Constitution, as well as a prohibition on the re-introduction of the death penalty.

With its ratification of Protocol 13 to the European Convention on Human Rights, Ireland re-emphasised its long-standing commitment to the abolition of the death penalty in any form.

The European Union also has a longstanding and firm position against the use of the death penalty – a punishment which it considers impairs human dignity, increases brutality and provides no added value in terms of deterrence. Consequently, the death penalty is unlawful in all European Union countries.

Globally, the international community has chosen to exclude the use of the death penalty in establishing international criminal courts and tribunals with competence to try the most heinous crimes such as genocide and crimes against humanity.


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