A Document for the History of Europe

Cross-border or pan European nature

The Charter of Law was also relevant to the history of other countries.

Portugal was an example used to create an argument for the supporters of the abolitionist fronts in Europe. The argument was based on the fact that Portugal was a country that had the courage to embrace a reform with a big civil impact, despite being born in the same cultural and historic heritage than other European countries.

The example of the abolition of the death penalty in smaller nations, considered as the moral guardians of the respect for the Human Rights, was important and had objective goals when defending the abolitionist movement:

  1. Show big nations the possibility, viability and efficacy of applying the reform, once the process in the Country implementing it is stabilised;
  2. Counter the main arguments of the policies in retentionist states (namely those that believe in the emergence of crime by losing the discouraging reference of the death penalty) and to speed up or motivate reformist processes in the states open to the abolition;
  3. Motivate the implementation of the reform process in the largest possible number of smaller countries, in order to take down any moral or political legitimacy of the big nations, when it comes to not engaging in legislative reforms;
  4. For the abolitionist movement, the death penalty and its abolition were directly related to the economic strength, international influence and geographic size of the big countries. According to the supporting thesis, that is the reason why they preferred to sacrifice moral greatness over political greatness[2]. The publishing of the Law of the abolition of the death penalty in Portugal was the cause of the movement. As Victor Hugo wrote: “To proclaim principles is even more beautiful than to discover worlds”[3].