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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Russia Constitutional Court extends moratorium on death penalty
Haley Wojdowski at 3:03 PM ET

[JURIST] The Constitutional Court of Russia [official website, in Russian] on Thursday extended the moratorium [press release, in Russian] on the death penalty [JURIST news archive] until the Russian parliament ratifies an international treaty abolishing capital punishment. In 1997, Russia signed, but did not ratify, Protocol 6 of the Convention on the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms [texts], which was put forward by the Council of Europe (COE) [official website] in 1983 to limit the exercise of the death penalty to cases involving "acts committed in time of war or of imminent threat of war." The court noted that Russia was invited to join the COE in part because of its expressed intention to place a moratorium on the penalty and take steps towards its abolition. The court also stated that allowing capital punishment may violate Russia's obligations under Protocol 6, citing Article 18 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties (VCLT) [text, PDF], which requires signatories to "refrain from acts which would defeat the object and purpose of a treaty."

In December 2006, the Russian Duma [official website, in Russian] effectively extended [JURIST report] the national moratorium on the death penalty until 2010, when Chechnya [BBC backgrounder] is expected to become the last state to adopt a federal law establishing trials by jury. In February 1999, the Constitutional Court imposed a moratorium [Bloomberg report] on the death penalty until the federal law is implemented in all regions within the country. The Russian death penalty has drawn repeated criticism [JURIST report] from the COE, which has pressured Russia to abolish it completely.

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