Ending the Death Penalty: The European Experience in Global Perspective
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Examining the successful movements to abolish capital punishment in the UK, France, and Germany, this book examines the similarities in the social structure and political strategies of abolition movements in all three countries. An in-depth comparative analysis with other countries assesses chances of success of abolition elsewhere.
focus is on members of the senior officialdom within EU institutions and the political leadership of Western European nations. We see in their rhetoric that the ‘needless suffering’ argument’s signal quality – its power to justify an absolute, universal ban on capital punishment – is now channeled through the modern rhetoric of human rights. As Franklin Zimring observed: [The international abolitionist’s] appeal to execution-free penal codes as a basic constitutional requirement for a civilized
legislation, when called to testify before the legislator, will generally declare that the draft penal code is a delicate and sophisticated legal mechanism that should not be tinkered with. Thus, they will strongly discourage individual legislators or parties from amending isolated portions of the code to satisfy particular constituent concerns. After the penal code has been passed by the national legislature, it must, of course, be implemented. The implementation phase of penal policy is, like
the ‘bloody code’ gradually became a serious embarrassment to the British Crown. For one thing, it complicated what many British commentators wished to claim as a key distinction between the 18th-century criminal procedure of the United Kingdom and the European Continent: the fact that England had abolished torture during criminal investigations, whereas most European jurisdictions still permitted the practice. English legal commentators’ disdain for the Continent’s torturous interrogations
which had calculated on life, a soul which is not prepared for death?’ (24) At one point, the condemned man witnesses the bizarre spectacle of prisoners at hard labor being marched out of their cells into a courtyard visible from his cell. They are all locked into a long iron chain, and led to a trough from which they are allowed to drink some gruel. They are also permitted a short time to themselves, to dance in a circle, chains clanking, chanting rhythmic prison ditties at the top of their
concluded: by invoking the language of honor and shame, a feature of the French political lexicon: ‘Tomorrow, thanks to you, we will no longer have in French prisons, to our common shame, furtive executions at dawn on a dark scaffold. Tomorrow the bloody pages of our history will be turned. At this moment more than any other I have the sentiment of having assumed my ministry in the ancient and noble sense of “service”.’ (Nye 2003:226) Badinter’s eloquence may have swayed some delegates, but most