The European Union has announced that it’s opposed to the proposed changes to legislation in Israel, which are designed to make it easier to sentence terrorists who commit murder to death. “As you know, the European Union is opposed to the death penalty under all circumstances and cases with no exception, and we are working at its universal abolition,” European Commission Spokesperson, Carlos Martin Ruiz De Gordejuela told reporters.
The preliminary reading of the controversial bill has been approved, although it still requires a second and third reading before it becomes law. A statement from the EU’s office in Israel said that “The death penalty is incompatible with human dignity. It constitutes inhuman & degrading treatment, does not have any proven deterrent effect & allows judicial errors to become irreversible & fatal.”
Israeli military courts have the power to issue the death sentence for certain crimes. However, this is not used and has only ever been implemented on one occasion in 1962, which was the case of Nazi member Adolf Eichmann for wartime crimes against humanity. Under current legislation, the death penalty can only be issued if it’s unanimously passed by a panel of three military judges. Under the proposed amendments the bill, a majority verdict would be enough to implement the punishment.
The motion, which would allow the Israeli authorities to use the death penalty in cases where Palestinians were involved in “operations against Israeli targets”, was initially brought forward by Avigdor Lieberman, who is Israel’s defence minister and is well known for his extreme nationalist views. Of 120 members of parliament, 52 voted in favour of the bill and 49 voted against it.
Among those who voted for the motion was Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who commented that “I think that in extreme cases, when somebody slaughters and laughs (as he kills), he should not spend the rest of his time in jail and should be executed.” When asked if the law would apply to Jewish militants convicted of murdering Palestinians he responded “In principle, yes.”
Qadoura Fares, chairman of the Palestinian Prisoner Club which represents Palestinians jailed in Israel, said that the result of the vote is ”an expression of the state of blindness and confusion in the policies of this fascist regime (where) extremist parties race to pass racist laws.”
Under EU human rights policies, the union takes the stance that it is against the use of the death penalty under all circumstances. According to its framework “Capital punishment is inhumane, degrading and unnecessary. As a matter of fact, there is no valid scientific evidence to support that the death penalty deters crime more effectively than other punishments. Furthermore, any miscarriage of justice, which is a possibility in any judiciary no matter how advanced it is, could lead to the intentional killing of an innocent person by state authorities.”
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