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Latvia is theoretically the only country of the European Union that still retains capital punishment for murder, however 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. 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; however, to date it has not yet been ratified. The Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR has not been signed by Latvia.


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