EU Auditors: Funding to Fight Torture and Death Penalty Diluted

Written by | Friday, September 25th, 2015

The European Court of Auditors said that the EU’s budget to fight the capital punishment and torture is not spent properly. The 2007-2013 budget of €100.9 million was allocated between 183 projects in more than 120 countries. 58 countries still have the death penalty and more than 5,000 executions are carried out every year. Auditors argue that most money is moreover spent on countries with little hope of reform. Klaus-HeinerLehne, one of the auditors, commented that “the EU is already very active in this field but the funding for its efforts to fight torture and to eliminate the death penalty is spread too thinly. Europe’s voice can be more effective if the money is better targeted.”
The European Commission and the EU’s foreign affairs service (EEAS) have both defended their policy, which provides non-profit organizations with funding to fight for human rights. NGOs apply for grants from the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR) where civil society organizations have to present their goals as part of the application process. However, auditors say that many of them have failed to accomplish their goals because the funding needed to be supported by other means, such as traditional program development support and diplomacy.
The European Commission, however, says that the EU-funded projects in this area are very important, as the EU28 is “one of the very few donors supporting financially the fight against torture and the abolition of the death penalty.” The Commission added that it was “fully convinced of the effectiveness of the EIDHR as one of several instruments in the fight against torture and the death penalty”. The EU’s executive body argues that even though it is very difficult to change these policies in some countries, this is not a good enough reason not to support them. The Commission pointed out that the issue of the death penalty is a sensitive area where progress is often visible only after a lot of effort is made.

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