There has never been a formal consensus within the OSCE concerning the abolition of
capital punishment, and countries that apply the death penalty with stringent
procedural safeguards and due process of law do not violate OSCE commitments.
Relevant OSCE documents, in particular the 1990 Copenhagen Document, solely
oblige participating States to keep the question of capital punishment under
consideration, to co-operate on the subject within relevant organizations, to exchange
information on the question of abolition of the death penalty, and to make available to
the public information regarding the use of the death penalty. Furthermore, the
Copenhagen Document refers to other international standards and instruments
restricting or completely abolishing the death penalty, namely Article 6 of the
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the Second Optional
Protocol to the ICCPR, and Protocol No. 6 to the European Convention on Human
Rights (ECHR).
This report reviews the period from 1 January 1998 to 30 June 2001. Notwithstanding
the rather weak OSCE commitments on abolition of capital punishment, the
worldwide trend towards abolition has been reflected also within the borders of the
OSCE region. During the period under review alone, nine participating States
removed the death penalty completely from their legal codes, thus bringing the total
number of abolitionist countries within the OSCE to 41. As of 30 June 2001, only 14
participating States (and four separatist, internationally unrecognized entities) retained
capital punishment in their statute books. Many of them, however, have ruled out the
death penalty for peacetime offences or have imposed official or unofficial moratoria
on executions. Therefore, the number of participating States actually carrying out the
death penalty was very low.
The countries where executions were confirmed to have taken place in the period
under review were Belarus, Kyrgyzstan1, the Russian Federation (Chechnya, while
under control of a separatist regime), and the USA. Other participating States, namely
Tajikistan, Turkmenistan2, and Uzbekistan, are believed to have carried out the death
penalty but no confirmed information was available. Several governments, including
the governments of Belarus, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan,
regard information related to capital punishment as a state secret and refuse to
disclose relevant material - a practice that is in clear contradiction of their
commitment under paragraph 17.8 of the Copenhagen Document.


Select target paragraph3