STRASBOURG (Armenpress)-On Saturday–the Council of Europe hailed Armenian President Robert Kocharian’s decision to commute the sentences of 42 prisoners on death row to life imprisonment–AFP said.
"I am delighted that President Kocharian has taken such a positive and commendable step forward," the organization’s secretary general–Walter Schwimmer–said in reaction to Friday’s announcement in Yerevan. "The death penalty is an affront to all notions of dignity and human rights–and has no place in the Europe of today. This decision is a clear sign that Armenia is determined to honor its commitmen’s to the Council of Europe–and wants to become fully integrated within the European family of nations." In April–Armenia’s national assembly adopted a new penal code abolishing the death penalty–making life imprisonment the toughest punishment available. However–it later voted to retain the death penalty as punishment for terrorism and other particularly serious crimes–such as the rape of minors–if they were committed before the new penal code was adopted. The new penal code came into force on Friday.