1st of July 1867: Abolition of the Death Penalty in Portugal

This law is one of the first examples in Europe to insert a Law on the abolition of the death penalty for civil crimes in a national legal system forever.

On the 15th of April 2015, the Charter of Law of Abolition of the Death Penalty was recognised as an European Heritage Label. The recognition of the Charter of Law of Abolition of the Death Penalty of 1867 as an European Heritage Label reinforces our aim to contribute to the promotion of the values of the European Citizenship, in particular Human Rights, and to build an identity based on the values of tolerance and respect for human life, as the result of an historic process in which new concepts of crime, criminals and criminal justice were born, according to the European Convention on Human Rights.

10th of October: European and World Day Against the Death Penalty

The 10th of October is a day for action and thinking, in which International Non-Governmental Organizations, Associations, local governments, anonymous citizens, as well as the Council of Europe encourage States that still carry out the death penalty to abolish such practice from their penal laws.

The decision to make the 10th of October the European Day Against the Death Penalty was taken on the 27th of September 2007 by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, as a result of a similar UE initiative being refused by Poland, with the argument that the Union should engage into a wider debate about the right to life, which includes abortion and euthanasia. In the opening ceremony of the conference, the minister of Justice, Alberto Costa, welcomed himself Europe for “being at its best” and for “being wide agreement concerning the death penalty, during the Portuguese Presidency in the Council of the European Union”, claiming that “Europe was at its best”. The secretary-general of the Council of Europe, Terry Davis, highlighted the importance of an European Day Against the Death Penalty when “so many in Europe still support it” and it would be irresponsible to ignore that. Mario Marazziti, spokesman of the Roman Community in Saint Giles, a catholic organisation known by its efforts supporting this cause, said that “a country that does not carry out the death penalty is not less safe” than others. He also stated that “The death penalty does not reduce, but improves culture and thinking of death, even if the purpose is to fight it”. Marazziti pointed out that the death penalty is frequently carried out “by mistake or against political opponents, social minorities or people too poor to pay for a good lawyer”.