Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

Guantánamo: imminent death penalty decision

Delivered in Plenary - 9th June 2011

Mr President

The ECR group believes that capital punishment is a personal conscience issue for each MEP and, although we acknowledge the EU’s common position opposing execution in all circumstances, the fact of the matter is that many millions of European citizens, our constituents, are still in favour of capital punishment.

Furthermore, this resolution refers to the potential death penalty being imposed on some of the most dangerous terrorists in the world, who thought nothing of conspiring to murder thousands of innocent people. Indeed when reading this resolution I thought of my own constituents who were mercilessly blown up by al-Qa’ida-inspired terrorists in London six years ago. The struggle against global Islamic terrorism is an asymmetric war with unforeseen results and unprecedented consequences, and new jurisprudence internationally is now needed to address this.

The detention camp in Guantánamo Bay is a reflection of this tragic situation. It is also a reflection on the fact that the United States is carrying a disproportionate share of the burden for the global war on terror. Of course, all such trials by the US authorities – which after all is a country that is a democracy and shares our common values – must nevertheless be conducted fairly with all legal safeguards of due process, and ideally by civilian courts.