Sunday, 22 November 2009

Russian Constitutional Court Knocks Out Death Penalty

On 19 November, the Constitutional Court of Russia ruled that no one may be sentenced to the death penalty, beginning 1 January 2010: The constitutional proceedings were triggered by the Supreme Court. Previously, the death penalty could not be used by the courts because of the lack of juries throughout the country.
Here is a rough translation of the Court's holding (the full judgment is not yet available): 'In the past 10 years, a comprehensive moratorium on the death penalty has been in place in the Russian Federation. In this period, firm guarantees of the right to not be subjected to a death penalty have been formed and the legitimate consitutional regime to that effect has emerged. They honour the international commitments assumed by Russia and serve as a manifestation of an irreversible process directed at the definitive abolition of death penalty as an exceptional measure of punishment of temporary character applicable in the transitional period'.
Russia's last official executions date to 1996 (although some were reported in Chechnya in 1999). Presidential intervention has prevented its implementation since then. Abolition of the death penalty is, of course, a condition of Russia's membership in the Council of Europe.
Apparently, legislative amendments have been tabled in the Duma by the President. Hopefully, Russia will soon ratify the 6th and 13th protocols to the European Convention on Human Rights.
Thanks to Sergey Vasiliev and Gleb Bogush.

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