A death penalty opponent stands in front of San Quentin State Prison late January 16 2006, shortly before the execution of convicted murderer Clarence Ray Allen at the prison in San Quentin, California.
The abolition of the death penalty worldwide is one of the main objectives of the EU’s human rights policy, the bloc said in a statement marking October 10, World and European Day against the Death Penalty.
"The EU considers the death penalty inhumane and a violation of human dignity," the European Commission said in a statement.
"It also does not deter violent crime. Any capital punishment resulting from a miscarriage of justice, from which no legal system can be immune, represents an irreversible loss of human life."
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said," I pledge my continued personal commitment, as well as that of the European Union, to doing away with the death penalty , which has no place in the modern world".
The EU plays the leading role in and is the biggest donor to efforts by civil society organisations around the world to campaign for the abolition of the death penalty, the statement said.
"The EU uses all available tools of diplomacy and co-operation assistance to work towards the abolition of the death penalty. Where the death penalty still exists, the EU calls for its use to be progressively restricted and insists that it be carried out according to internationally-agreed minimum standards."
The EU said that it encourages public debate, strengthening public opposition and putting pressure on retentionist countries to abolish the death penalty, or at least introduce a moratorium as a first step.
The EU also acts against the death penalty in multilateral forums, such as the United Nations; a culmination of this effort has been the series of resolutions on the moratorium on the use of the death penalty, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly, the statement said
July 2011 marked the 20th anniversary of the entry into force of the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the main worldwide legal instrument for the abolition of the death penalty. "The EU encourages all states to ratify or accede to this protocol," the statement said.
The EU is also the first regional body to have adopted rules prohibiting the trade in goods used for capital punishment (and torture and ill-treatment), as well as the supply of technical assistance related to such goods. "The EU’s political commitment has been matched by substantial financial support for concrete projects."