Poland sinks Portuguese plans for EU-wide Death Penalty Day

Poland has all but sunk plans by the Portuguese presidency of the EU to hold a European Day against the death penalty next month, diplomats in Brussels acknowledged Tuesday.

Poland sinks Portuguese plans for EU-wide Death Penalty Day
Poland has all but sunk plans by the Portuguese presidency of the EU to hold a European Day against the death penalty next month, diplomats in Brussels acknowledged Tuesday.

Speaking on the sidelines of a council meeting of justice and home affairs ministers, Spanish Justice Minister Mariano Sanchez Bermejo said the Polish government had reiterated its opposition to the celebration.

"Twenty-six countries in the EU want to celebrate a symbolic day against the death penalty but only one, Poland, is against," Sanchez Bermejo said.

"It is very difficult to understand why Poland is putting a veto on this. We hope it is only a provisional (veto)," the minister added.

Portugal was the first European country to abolish the death penalty, back in 1876, and is keen for the EU to endorse its anti- capital punishment stance with a European day against the death penalty, to be celebrated on October 10.

But Poland, which is governed by a strongly Roman Catholic conservative administration, insists on transforming it into a pro- life event, arguing that while the death penalty is no longer an issue among the 27 member states, abortion and euthanasia are.

In disagreeing with Poland's isolated stance, British Justice Minister Jack Straw noted that such issues tend to be treated as matters of personal conscience rather than party politics in Britain.

Diplomats in Brussels conceded that Poland was unlikely to change its stance ahead of a closely-fought general election scheduled for October 21.

DPA
Last Mod: 19 Eylül 2007, 12:11
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