Our 1978 Constitution declared the abolition of the death penalty only three years after the last executions took place in Spain. Thus, we became the fastest country to move from executing prisoners to enshrining the abolition of capital punishment in its Constitution, demonstrating once more the firm commitment by the authors of the Spanish Constitution to build the nascent democracy in a positive way.
Spain is abolitionist in law and regards the fight against the death penalty as a fundamental pillar of its external human rights policy. This firm commitment is grounded in legal instruments such as the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights or the 1950 European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, and in a consistent policy supported by the whole European Union.
We believe the death penalty to be a cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment which is contrary to human dignity, has no proven deterring effect on criminal behaviour and causes irreparable damage in cases of miscarriage of justice. Advocates of the death penalty often argue that it should be reserved for the most serious crimes, such as terrorism. Spain has fought terrorism by using the death penalty before the enactment of our Constitution, and without it since the advent of democracy. Our history proves that the rule of law and the strength of the judiciary are the most effective tools available to a democratic society that respects human rights.
Spain has always given special attention to its citizens condemned to death penalty abroad, exercising the protection recognized in the1963 Vienna Convention on consular relations and through our financial support program for legal aid.
Spain’s strategy in the fight against the death penalty is illustrated in milestones such as the creation of the International Commission Against the Death Penalty in 2010 and the offer of the city of Madrid as a venue to host the 5th World Congress Against the Death Penalty between 12-15 June 2013.
The fight against the death penalty is a universal struggle. May this Congress bring shoulder to shoulder all those conscious of the universal fight against abolition – a struggle in which we are all, without exception, involved.
José Manuel García-Margallo y Marfil
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Spain
Spain sponsors the 5th World Congress Against the Death Penalty.