17th Aug 2022

EU death penalty day gets Polish blessing

Poland has lifted its veto on creating a "European Day Against the Death Penalty," clearing the way for EU justice ministers to adopt the plan in Brussels on Friday (7 December).

The move will see the EU join the Strasbourg-based Council of Europe and NGOs such as Amnesty International in campaigning for worldwide abolition every year on 10 October.

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Abolition is already a pre-requisite for joining the EU, but Poland's previous government - led by the rightist and populist Law and Justice party - took a lone stance against the project earlier this year.

The new government, led by the more liberal Civic Platform, has promised to return Poland to the EU mainstream on a range of issues including civil rights and euro-adoption.

"Everything has changed in Poland. The government has changed. Poland has changed and the decision has changed," interior minister Grzegorz Schetyna told Polish press agency PAP on the eve of the Friday meeting.

The death penalty shift was quickly welcomed by the Portuguese EU presidency, but some EU diplomats remain curious how Civic Platform will handle harder issues, such as a proposed Russia-Germany gas pipeline, which threatens Polish energy interests.

"There is definitely a change of style, but some of the substantial problems remain the same," one contact said.

Amnesty International reports "at least" 1,591 people were legally executed in 2006. China is the most prolific. EU ally, the US, favours lethal injection. Belarus shoots people, while Iran practices public stoning and hanging.

The EU in November helped push through a non-binding UN resolution against capital punishment, but faced criticism from Caribbean and Asian states for trying to impose values in a neo-colonialist way.

Draghi's grip on power finally unravels

Italy looked set to lose its highly-respected prime minister Mario Draghi on Thursday, after his attempt to relaunch his grand coalition government ended with right-wing parties joining the populist Five Star Movement (M5S) in deserting him.

Italy back in chaos, as Draghi quits over 5-Star snub

Italy was plunged into fresh political turmoil on Thursday as prime minister Mario Draghi announced his resignation after a key ally within his grand coalition government boycotted a parliamentary vote.

MEP accused of 'disrespecting' female moderator

Some 100 representatives of civil society organisations, including Transparency International EU and Oxfam, accuse German Green MEP Reinhard Bütikofer of disrespecting a moderator because she was a woman of colour and want him reprimanded.


Albania's post-communist dream has lessons for Ukraine

Comparisons between post-communist Albania and current-day Ukraine are fascinating — and make many pertinent parallels. Ukrainians have a similar determination to belong to "the rest of Europe" as Albanians.


Finally, the victims of Utøya got a memorial

A legal battle between locals on the one hand and the state and the labour youth organisation on the other side postponed the inception of the memorial in remembrance of the victims of Anders Behring Breivik.

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