Skip to content
post thumbnail

VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Are there EU countries with death penalty?

The president says there are EU countries with death penalty. Is that so?

Apr 1, 2017



-minute read

ifcn badge

Share This Article


President Rodrigo Duterte has been hurling invectives at the European Union (EU) for the past two weeks, telling them to stop meddling in the country’s affairs.

The tirade began after the EU, an economic and political union of 28 member-states in Europe, came out with a resolution on March 16, calling for the immediate release of Senator Leila de Lima.

But what apparently piqued the president most was a statement about death penalty.

In front of the Filipino community in Myanmar on March 19, Duterte called out the EU on its supposed hypocrisy on the issue.


“You know you guys, I will talk in English…Do not impose your culture or your belief in what would be a government in this planet. Do not impose on other countries, especially us. Ito, ito noon paborito nila itong mga ASEAN countries (They liked to pick on ASEAN countries)… because may (there’s), there’s a death penalty in Indonesia, Malaysia and I’m trying to revive it and I’m trying… as if the other countries of EU walang (don’t have) death penalty. Marami pa rin (Many still have).”

(Source: RTVMalacañang. Meeting with the Filipino Community in Myanmar, watch from 29:30 – 30:07)

Just how many countries in the EU still have death penalty?



All 28 member-states of the European Union have abolished the death penalty. The abolition is required in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union which became legally binding to all EU members in 2009.

Article 2 of the charter states that no EU citizen shall be executed or condemned to death. Countries need to follow this charter to be part of the EU.

The EU members also ratified the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms which recognizes an exception to the right to life in “the execution of a sentence of a court following conviction of a crime” where the penalty is death.

Please hover over the interactive map for the country names.

Known as the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), the agreement applies not just to EU member-states but to 47 European countries. It came into force in 1953.

But in 1983, Protocol 6 of the ECHR banned the use of death penalty except during war time. In 2002, Protocol 13 was established, permanently abolishing the death penalty at all times.

In fact, in the entire European continent, only three countries have laws on death penalty – Kazakhstan, Belarus and Russia – which are not members of the EU.

But only Belarus continues to carry out executions to this day. Kazakhstan abolished the death penalty for ordinary crimes in 2007, but retained it for crimes committed under special circumstances, like during war.

Russia has not executed any criminal since its Constitutional Court issued a moratorium on death sentences and executions in 1999.


European Parliament resolution of 16 March 2017 on the Philippines – the case of Senator Leila M. De Lima

Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union

European Convention on Human Rights

EU Guidelines on Death Penalty

Amnesty International. Abolitionist and Retentionist Countries as of 19 December 2016

Get VERAfied

Receive fresh perspectives and explainers in your inbox every Tuesday and Friday.