Poland: against a “European Day against the Death Penalty”?

After some worrying reports come out from Amnesty International for Poland, I’m still amazed that political brothers, sorry, leaders in this country still have doubts about the death penalty. One of the Kaczyñskis has suggested that perhaps Poland could introduce death penalty again. On the top, the country is reported as increasingly homophobic along with anti-abortion sentiments rising. There are also some reports about the degeneration of democracy. And the witch-hunting extended well beyond the case of Geremek, now appears to be targeting politically unpleasant enemies. Charges of corruption and similar. We have seen it before.

But there is a more immediate concern for the EU. First, the abolition of death penalty is a condition to become a member of both the EU and the Council of Europe. Where Poland proudly sits. So, statements like this already deserve a reminder to Kaczyñskis that this is not the way to do business so far away from Texas.

Secondly, there is symbolic issue now being dealt with within the Committee of Permanent Representatives of the EU (COREPER) concerning the declaration  of a “European day against the Death Penalty”. It’s a join initiative of the Council of Europe and the European Union and the currently presiding Portugal would like to push for the 10th October to be proclaimed as such. And for those EU geeks out there: the Presidency put the item on the agenda of the meeting in the part “I”. Which means there is no debate and the COREPER members only agre or express reservations.

It was only at the last moment that Poland (during an Antici meeting, one level before COREPER) raised a substantive objection and moved the item to the part “II”. Which means it goes one level above, to COREPER and it open a debate on the issue. The argumentation was scarry. According to the Polish, the right to life does not exclude death penalty and the issue should be re-debated in Europe. This is why they are in principle against the declaration of a “European day against the Death Penalty”.

Should we worry or wait for the elections?

19 thoughts on “Poland: against a “European Day against the Death Penalty”?”

  1. Dear Richelieu, I wonder what you refer to. Congratulate for what? Poland is nowadays a completely isolated country within the EU while undergoing a completely chaotic and worryingly totalitarian times at home. I really hope you can think of a better comment.


  2. dear Marco:

    Richelieu is RIGHT. Soon Euroarabia will adopt the flag of a green field with a hoof and a horn. Remember “No animal shall kill any other animal without cause” In the end there will be only POLAND where right to life and life itself will be respected.



  3. Dear John. I’m not sure I understand your comment. and the quote. I think that life is well respected all around the EU. It’s a question of someone else can impose death on you. And here I don’t have doubts.


  4. OK, “death penalty” is bad since “killing human being” is bad…

    But the question is “what is the definition of human”? And it is not obvious, in my opinion.

    I notice that there is not a common agreement in the world about the dead-line (joke) for an abortion…

    Personally, I consider a just born baby more like an animal than like a true human being, so that I would be really tolerant about abortion.


  5. From what I see You are very poorly informed Marko, I am far from being a Kaczynski supporter, but – first – what You wrote about the situation in Poland was … hmm… rather exagerated? And what’s more – the Duck Brothers have a point – there needs to be a debate on the right to life in that sense that especially euthanasia could be linked to death penalty, plus we could ask why the governments of Europe act as Human Rights prophets vis a vis the world, while a majority of EU citizens supports death penalty (at leas for murderers). I’m not saying they are right – my point is, first they should explain to their own people why death penalty is wrong and then come up with ideas of pointless ‘anti something’ holidays. Cheers.


  6. Hi Kacper! I’m sure not perfectly informed, but to me the interventions of the Polish (within Coreper and for the media) were quite clear – they questioned the stand against death penalty within the EU. As stated above, the absence of capital punishment is a condition to enter EU or Council of Europe and has been accepted as a value on the European continent. I hope we agree on this.

    If a majority of EU citizens support death penalty, for which I don’t see any proof (if you have some relevant statistics, please post here), we have a problem. But the reaction of responsible politicians should not be to re-introduce death penalty, but rather make sure the sanctions regime is effective without it.

    Then, I don’t see an immediate link between euthanasia and death penalty. One is supposed to be a free decision of an individual in extreme circumstances, the other is a type of punishment by the state i.e. enforced on an individual against his/her will.

    I share the point on pointless “anti something” days, but perhaps death penalty is one of the less pointless…


  7. well, I’m writing a peper on the ‘European Day Against Death Penalty’ controversy, and first observation – it is EXTREMELY hard to find any statistics regarding the support for capital punishment in the EU. The Eurobarometer never asked this question (to my knowledge) and only separate state data exists. From that we can be certain that there is a majority in support of death penalty in all of Central East Europe, Eastern lands of Germany included, and in the UK. In Portugal and France on the other hand the situation is reversed. For me, it is very interesting why the Eurobarometer does not pose this question i the first place – I don’t wish to sound like a conspiracy theorist, but there is surely an idea of muting the possible debate behind that. If You read the Barometer carefully You will find for example that a great majority of Europeans (95%) supports harsher punishment for violence against children – and since in most states child rape is punished by life sentence, one can guess what at least some of the people mean.

    Once again – I am not a supporter of death penalty, but I am a fan of discussion and democracy. If in fact there are so many Europeans who do not feel death penalty is ‘wrong’, maybe the EU should launch some kind of campaign aimed to change that. And certainly it should not put the ‘value of the right to life’ on the pan-European banner. I just feel that this whole affair reeks of hypocrycy, and European heads of state wanting to feel better.

    then the question of euthanasia and abortion. Euthanasia of the patient’s or family’s wn will is a private decision. But i the Netherlands it is also (in ‘extreme cases’) for the medical staff to decide if the patient will receive life support or not. How is that private? And then there is abortion which is all too complex for me. To be frank, I can’t say I have a firm point of view on it. All this debate about ‘when does the egg cell become a human being’ and ‘why can you kill it when its inside, and feel its murder once its outside’ is just too much.

    And about the ‘anti something’ day. If Europe ever wanted to pressure China on Human Rights issues, it has plenty of instruments to do that. I can see Beijing trembling before the ‘European Day Against Death Penalty’, oh they are affraid. It would be quite cool if the majority of EU states helped Poland in pressuring the Belarussians and monitoring their HR situation, supporting the dissdents, better than trying to kill an elephant with a needle.


  8. You asked for some sources, I am posting the most selfevident I found up till now:
    On the general support by country –
    On the situation in the Czech Republic –
    Eastern Europe in general –

    they are rather limited, but I am looking for more. I know that even in Slovenia there were rightwing extremists calling for the restitution of capital punishment for pedophiles, but I am not saying that one can observe a ‘degeneration of democracy’ in Slovenia (especially after Turk’s election 🙂 After surviving Kaczynski’s rule over the last 2 years I am quite convinced that populism and extremism can make democracy benefit – by mobilizing the society in protest and showing it that change is feasible. Sort of like vaccination 🙂


  9. Hi Kacper, thanks for the links.

    First, I think there are certain issues where responsible politicians should lead the debate, not follow the public opinion. Ask whether people would like to lynch someone that has killed 3 kids. For sure you will get 100% yes if you ask 1 day after it has been discovered. People would be even in favour of a public execution. I think you should re-think how you look at the issue and consider this in the paper.

    Second, you claim that populism and extremism are good for democracy. This is a very dangerous statement. Is Vlaamsbelang beneficial to democracy in Belgium, is Le Pen beneficial in France, is Jelinčič beneficial for democracy in Slovenian (he received 20% at the last elections)? No, these are dangerous political actors. What do you think about youth Skinheads in Germany? Are they also welcome in the debate?

    If the public demands something with 99% majority, this should not automatically become law. If yes, it’s time to leave that place.


  10. Hi

    First of all – my paper will be value-free in terms of judging the death penalty or abortion. I just want to point out that the support for death penalty in Europe is a priority to be adressed by the governments. And avoiding the task is yet another proof of the democratic deficit in the EU.

    Secondly – comparing Kaczynski to German skinheads or even to Le Pen is a big exageration. I think You should rethink the term ‘populism’, as it is used to name anything left or right from the speaker, a pejorative label without meaning. Then, if You would care to read me right, I said that in the Polish case a period of political insanity made large groups of the society more mobilised, aware and moved it towards a full blown ‘civil society’. I wrote that democracy ‘can benefit’, not that it always does. But then, I also think that where there is extremism, there should also appear a counter-force. If it doesn’t show up – that doesn’t say much good about a society.

    There is always a trade-off between participatory democracy and ‘reason’, for sure. But as in the case of lynching – You have to protect the murderer from the mob, but not by pretending nothin happened, nor by shooting at the mob. It would also be useful to explain why extra-judicial killing (be it murder or lynch) is not acceptable (cause it clearly is not).


  11. Hi,

    Of course in relative terms we can make assumptions almost about everything. We could also say that Milosevic was good for the future of the individual republics of former Yugoslavia (which declared independence and now prosper or not). We could also say that the same Milosevic was beneficial to democracy in Serbia, since it mobilised people.

    I’m just of the opinions that it’s better to have normal politics, without extremes, to run countries than having “adventures” like Kaczynski. But in very abstract and general terms I could agree with you, Kacper.


  12. Hi Marko,

    You are absolutely right, maybe I should reformulate a bit. I think Poland would be in a much better position if we avoided those two years under Law and Justice rule. The only positive I can see in the, by all means, sad fact that we had to go through them is how it all ended, and maybe also how opposed people were even during these two years. I don’t think there were that many student marches and demonstrations since 1989, maybe apart from events, such as the support demonstrations for the Orange Revolution.

    I was playing the devil’s advocate a bit in the previous posts 😉 cheers. K


  13. not a surprise. I would just like to notice that only the Secretary of the Council of Europe has similar thoughts to mine – saying that we need to explain why death penalty is wrong to European citizens not yet convinced. Some slogans on the Commission’s website make me wanna puke. “Tireless champion for the abolition of the death penalty throughout the world, the EU proposes a European day against the death penaltyâ€?. As if.


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