Children, invisible victims of the death penalty

Today we celebrate the European and World Day against the Death Penalty. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Didier Reynders repeats that Belgium remains strongly committed to the universal abolition of the death penalty.

The fight against the death penalty has long been one of our country's major thematic priorities. The ultimate goal of Belgium and the EU is the complete abolition of the death penalty for all crimes worldwide. The death penalty is an unacceptable violation of human dignity and is a cruel, inhumane and degrading punishment.

This punishment not only affects the convicted or executed person, but also his or her environment, in particular, the children of parents on death row. Belgium has drawn attention to the fate of these children with a resolution in the Human Rights Council in 2013. Furthermore, financial support was granted to a study by the NGO Quakers on the protection of these children, which resulted in the publication of a useful legal analysis earlier this year. "These children often remain the invisible victims of the death penalty. That is why today I fully support the campaign of the World Coalition against the Death Penalty", says Minister Reynders.

Belgium's commitment to abolishing the death penalty is not limited to just this one day a year. It is a long-term project on several fronts. Our country pursues its efforts for the ratification of the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year. This protocol, that provides for the abolition of the death penalty, has only been ratified by 88 countries.