"The death penalty is not only an intolerable affront to human dignity, its use goes hand in hand with numerous violations of the human rights of the condemned and their families. Moreover, capital punishment has no positive impact on crime prevention or security and does not in any way repair the harm done to the victims and their families," the statement reads.
According to Lithuania's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the ministers stressed that the abolition of the death penalty is a long and hard process demanding a lot of effort and should also involve the society. It is stressed in the statement that the abolition of the death penalty in almost all European countries is a result of discussions and a smooth exchange of ideas between countries and societies.
"Capital punishment was not repealed overnight. Its abolition became a reality only as a result of increasing awareness and constant collective effort. It was through perseverance and in gradual stages that the number of executions fell, the list of crimes punishable by death was narrowed, justice became more transparent, de facto moratoriums on executions were established and that – finally – the death penalty disappeared. It is this process that countries that still carry out executions in the name of justice must go through," the minister said.
"We strongly urge the last State in Europe still applying the capital punishment to join a global moratorium on the death penalty as a first step towards its abolition," the statement reads.
Belarus remains the only country in Europe with the death penalty still in place. Worldwide, there are around 50 such countries. There were twice as many 20 years ago.
In Lithuania, death penalty executions were stopped in 1996 and the Seimas of Lithuania abolished capital punishment on December 21, 1998, replacing it with life imprisonment as the severest punishment.
Lithuania has ratified Protocol No. 13 to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, concerning the abolition of the death penalty in all circumstances, and the Constitutional Court of Lithuania has ruled that such a punishment runs counter to the country's Constitution.
According to Article 2 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, "no one shall be condemned to the death penalty, or executed."
Lithuania is holding the EU presidency in the second half of this year.