In France, I Grieve the Man Who Made the Guillotine a Historical Landmark

In France, I Grieve the Man Who Made the Guillotine a Historical Landmark

Robert Badinter, the former Justice Minister of France, who passed away at the age of 95, was an adamant adversary of the death penalty, a stance he held even before it became a mainstream opinion.

The nation of France collectively grieved and commemorated the passing of their former justice minister, Robert Badinter, on Friday. He had died the previous night at the ripe age of 95.

His passing became the central discussion in all major French media outlets, and a detailed report on Badinter’s life and accomplishments was also published by the AFP news agency.

Badinter’s most remarkable achievement was the abolition of the death penalty from French law. This historic change took place in 1981, during his tenure as the newly appointed Minister of Justice.

In a gripping speech delivered in the French parliament, Badinter expressed his vehement opposition to the “secret dawn executions” and labeled them as a “collective shame” for France.

It is worth noting that Badinter had already emerged as an opponent of the death penalty in the 1970s, during his career as a defense lawyer. A pivotal moment was a 1972 case in which his client was charged with complicity in two murders and consequently sentenced to death.

The traditional method of execution in France since the 1790s, the period of the French Revolution, was the guillotine. The death sentence was carried out using this device.

As recently as 1977, two murderers were executed in France by the guillotine.

The last person to be executed by guillotine was Hamida Djandoubi, a Tunisian immigrant. He had been sentenced to death for the kidnapping, torture, and murder of a young woman. Djandoubi was executed in September 1977.

Throughout his career, Badinter was successful as a defense lawyer in saving six of his clients from being sentenced to death.

His fervent activism against the death penalty earned him a fair share of critics and even led to death threats. During the 1970s, a majority of the French populace was in favor of the death penalty.