[JURIST] France Wednesday formally agreed to abolish the death penalty in all circumstances when it ratified [press release, in French] a provision of the European Convention on Human Rights [text; death penalty dossier]. Since its 2003 inception, Protocol 13 [text], designed to allow signatories to "take the final step in order to abolish the death penalty in all circumstances," has been adopted by 40 of the 47 members of the Council of Europe (COE) [official website]. The remaining seven states have instituted moratoria on executions. France's ratification coincided with the European Day against the Death Penalty, celebrated on October 10. COE Secretary General Terry Davis explained [speech text]:
The abolition of the death penalty in Europe is the pinnacle of our progress in the defence of human dignity and human rights. The European Day against the Death Penalty will help us to make progress towards the day, in a not too distant future, when the death penalty will be eradicated throughout the world.No COE member state has carried out an execution in a decade.
In February, the French parliament voted to amend the French Constitution [JURIST] to include an explicit ban on the death penalty. The amendment [text, in French] made official a ban which had existed de facto in France since 1981.