Louis Michel warns Erdogan against calling a referendum to reinstate the death penalty

The possible reinstatement of capital punishment in Turkey would be the red line not to be crossed. It would spell the end of the EU accession process that has already been frozen. None of the values underlying the construction of Europe can justify the relativisation of human life, accepting a justice that kills. Turkey, as a member of the Council of Europe, is faced with its responsibilities and it is bound to respect its obligations before the European Court of Human Rights.

Cruel and unacceptable, the death penalty is the opposite of mankind. It is a question of the utmost importance in that it affects the right to life, the right not to be subject to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, the first of all human rights and to respect human dignity. The death penalty is neither fair nor effective. It is neither moralizing nor intimidating nor dissuasive. On the contrary, it is an offense to justice, to human justice which, by definition, is fallible. It carries all the social poisons starting with racism and inequality. One can only speak up against the executions of minors, homosexuals, persons with mental disorders, persons belonging to a different ethnic group, a different religion, persons guilty of adultery, etc.

I am not naive but I refuse to be, as humanist, a pessimist of mankind. It is a question of existential nature for humanity. The abolition of the death penalty is the victory of democracy over totalitarianism; it is the primacy of freedom over obscurantism; it is the victory of the magical alchemy between reason and intelligence; it means not to hold human rights in contempt.

Be careful not to consider the death penalty as the best way to put an end to political crime and to terrorism. Those who believe are in the wrong debate. Terrorism is on the ground of ideology. Any executed terrorist, sublimates, transcends and maintains the infernal spiral of violence. A justice system that kills is in fact anti-justice, it is a sneaky trap of democracy, it is the victory of those who let passion prevail over reason, those who let fear and vengeance prevail over human and universal values.

Louis Michel

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