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Cyprus

House to delete the death penalty from the constitution

House Speaker Demetris Syllouris

The scrapping of a constitutional provision allowing for legislation to impose the death penalty for certain crimes will be put to a plenary vote on Friday, House legal affairs committee chairman Yiorgos Georgiou announced on Wednesday.

Article 7.2 of the constitution of Cyprus states that “no person shall be deprived of his life except in the execution of a sentence of a competent court following his conviction of an offence for which this penalty is provided by law”.

Under the article, the death penalty covered premeditated murder, high treason, piracy pure gentium and capital offences under military law.

Although Cyprus officially abolished the death penalty for murder in 1983 and for all other offences in 2002, and despite Cyprus being a signatory to the second optional protocol of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which provides for the full abolition of capital punishment, House Speaker Demetris Syllouris tabled a proposal to abolish the clause, arguing that its existence leaves the window open for future legislation re-introducing it.

The proposal, which will be put to a plenary vote on Friday, requires a two-thirds majority.

Speaking after a committee session, Georgiou said the clause would be abolished so that Cyprus could be fully harmonised with European legislation and international treaties.

Akel deputy Aristos Damianou said the death penalty was forbidden by article 2 of the European Union’s Fundamental Rights Charter and by the Convention on Human Rights.

Damianou said Syllouris’ proposal was right, adding that this inactive clause – Cyprus saw its last executions in 1962 – had not been invoked in several decades.

“About 10 other constitutional articles cite the death sentence, and therefore this amendment will strictly refer to capital punishment but touch on about 10 other constitutional provisions,” he said.

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