Capital punishment in Latvia

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Latvia was the last country of the European Union to retain capital punishment for murder, but only during wartime.[1][2]

Latvia regained independence in 1991 after fall of the Soviet Union. Subsequently the death penalty in civilian cases was reserved for murder and the only method of executions, as during Soviet times, was shooting with a single bullet to the back of the head. The last executions took place in January 1996.[3]

In the autumn 1996, President Guntis Ulmanis had claimed that he would commute any death sentence to a term of imprisonment.[4]

Latvia continued to hand down death sentences until 1998. On April 15, 1999 the death penalty in time of peace was abolished by ratifying Protocol No. 6 to the European Convention on Human Rights. In 2002 Latvia signed Protocol No. 13 to ECHR, concerning the abolition of the death penalty under all circumstances. The law on ratification of Protocol 13 was adopted on 13 October 2011 and the protocol was ratified on 26 January 2012. Protocol 13 was entered into force on 1 May 2012.[5]

Latvia acceeded to the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in 2013.[6]


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