Death penalty: German state Hesse scraps death penalty anomaly

Posted by On 7:02 AM

Death penalty: German state Hesse scraps death penalty anomaly

Europe Europe Death penalty: German state Hesse scraps death penalty anomaly

A child looks on as a voters fills out the ballot papers during the state elections in Hesse (Hessen) at a polling station in Ginsheim-Gustavsburg, central GermanyImage copyright TORSTEN SILZ/AFP/Getty
Image caption Some 83% of voters in Hesse were keen to update the local law

The German state of Hesse has voted to finally scrap the death penalty from its constitution, amending a 69-year-old legal anomaly which allowed it.

The western state is the last in Germany to amend its local legal code, after the national constitution abolished capital punishment in 1949.

Some 83% of voters were in favour of changing the 1946 provision, referendum results on Thursday showed.

The vote is a symbolic one, as federal laws have always trumped state ones.

Between 1946 and 1949, two people were sentenced to death in the state, but the rulings were later commuted to life sentences.

Capital punishment is banned in all EU countries, so this lingering quirk was seen as an embarrassment to Germany, an outspoken opponent of the practice.

  • How many countries still have the death penalty?
  • The secret executions in Europe's 'last dicta torship'
  • Pope changes teaching on death penalty

The referendum, which took place on Sunday, coincided with a regional vote which saw heavy losses for Chancellor Angela Merkel's CDU party.

On Monday, she announced she would quit as party leader and step down as German chancellor in 2021.

How did the law last so long?

Germany abolished the death penalty with its Basic Law of 1949, but the state of Hesse's constitution predated this.

Other states introduced local bans in line with national law, but wealthy Hesse, home to financial hub Frankfurt, was the last to do so.

"Partly it was never modernised because it wasn't necessary - the Basic Law overrules state constitutions," local politician Juergen Banzer said, according to Reuters.

A second reason was that Hesse is the only state that can change its state constitution - the oldest in modern Germany - through a people's vote.

"Ther e was a fear that if a terrible crime was committed just as Hesse voted on whether to abolish the death penalty, then the vote could go the wrong way," Mr Banzer said.

Voters had 15 amendments to consider on Sunday, including statements on children's rights, sex equality, European unity and environmental sustainability.

Top Stories

Khashoggi body 'dissolved in acid'

A top Turkish official says it's the only logical conclusion about how the writer's body was disposed of.

2 November 2018 Japan may relax rules for foreign workers 2 November 2018 A gloves-off fight that defines US election 1 November 2018

Features

An ugly, gloves-off fight that defines US election

Pride and Passion: Jane Austen novels the Brazilian way

Fake Soros scares bid to draw US voters

A kidnapped girl, a skeleton and a house of memories

How US employers silence sex accusers

Video

'I shot him right in the butt': I invented paintball

BBC Future: The bizarre material made from fungus and sweat

Quiz of the Week: Who told Trump to stop the music?

How can we stop being cyber idiots?

Elsewhere on the BBC

Football phrases

15 sayings from around the world

Full article Football phrases Why you can trust BBC News

BBC N ews Services

  • On your mobile
  • On your connected tv
  • Get news alerts
  • Contact BBC News
Source: Google News Germany | Netizen 24 Germany

Next
« Prev Post
Previous
Next Post »