A couple of weeks back I wrote a post revealing that the EU has been giving millions of euros to anti-death penalty groups in the United States. As The Wall Street Journal subsequently commented in an editorial on my Telegraph piece:
European countries may need bailing out, but you’ll be pleased to know that the European Union has enough money to promote human rights and democracy—in America. Don’t laugh.
American states are free to decide their own penal codes, which vary widely and change as facts and public values evolve. Europe won’t allow such a debate at home but feels the moral afflatus to tax its own citizens to promote one side of the argument in America. Europe can’t find the money to pay for its fair share of NATO but it can spare a dime to hector its main defense benefactor on criminal law. This is why fewer and fewer Americans take Europe seriously.
One of those US groups that receives EU funding is the Illinois branch of the Death Penalty Information Center, which was given €193,443 in 2009 for a grant “changing the course of the death penalty debate” (hat tip: Sally McNamara). Illinois abolished the death penalty last week, making it one of 16 states in America that ban the practice, in contrast to 34 states that retain it. Needless to say, the EU’s foreign policy chief Baroness Ashton immediately used the occasion to lecture the United States on “the progressive development of human rights”, declaring in a March 11 statement:
The European Union congratulates the Governor and the Illinois State Legislature on this historic decision, making Illinois the 16th state in the United States to end the death penalty.
The European Union strongly hopes that this decision will encourage other US States to follow suit in joining the growing national and worldwide movement towards the abolition of the use of capital punishment.
The European Union considers that the abolition of the death penalty contributes to the enhancement of human dignity and the progressive development of human rights. The European Union reaffirms its objective of working towards the universal abolition of the death penalty.
It should of course come as no surprise that the European Union, which has zero respect for the sovereignty of its own member states, seeks to meddle in the affairs of a great democracy such as the United States. Baroness Ashton clearly has a greater interest in hectoring the American people than she does in condemning the brutal rule of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.
The EU chief’s condescending statement is a reflection of a warped world view in Brussels that treats the United States as though it were a third world tyranny in need of enlightened guidance from Europe. After all, the EU’s Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights, which gave nearly a million dollars to the American Bar Association for its anti-death penalty campaign, is dedicated to “enhancing respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in countries and regions where they are most at risk.”
One of many glaring differences between the European Union and the United States is that US officials are accountable to the American people, whose laws are drafted by elected representatives in line with a Constitution that actually protects individual liberty rather than usurps it. The EU’s sneering at America’s stance on the death penalty is merely the latest reflection of Brussels’ contempt for democracy, national sovereignty, and political accountability. If unelected apparatchiks such as Baroness Ashton really care about human rights perhaps they should spend a bit more time examining the lack of political freedom that exists within the European Union itself.