Topic
Death Penalty
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High School
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13
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6543
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4.8
48

Abolition of the Death Penalty Essay

During the past few decades, there has been a concerted movement across the globe to abolish the death penalty. At the time of the formation of the United Nations, in the year 1945, just eight countries had abolished the death penalty. Although, Europe has traditionally been regarded as the bastion of abolition, Vis – a – Vis the death penalty, six among these eight nations were countries in Central and South America (Sangiorgio, 2011, p. 34).

The move to abolish capital punishment gained ascendancy in the 1960s; and during the past 20 years, there has been at least one country every year that has abolished the death penalty. As of the year, 1991 there were 48 nations that had abolished capital punishment. By the year 2010, this had increased to 96. At present, the number of countries that have abolished this form of punishment stands at 139 (Sangiorgio, 2011, p. 34).

Furthermore, there is an increasing proclivity among the nations that inflict the death penalty to participate in the global movement to abolish capital punishment. This is evident from the reducing number of executions over the past decade. For instance, during the 1990s, there were 40 nations, on an average that were executing individuals. This number has reduced to 30, by the 2000s. In the year, 2008, the number of such countries was 25, and in the year 2009 it was just 19 (Sangiorgio, 2011, p. 34).

A global trend towards the abolition of the death penalty is clearly discernible. As many as 139 countries no longer execute people, and have become abolitionist in law and practice. Among the 58 nations that have chosen to retain the death penalty, less than 50% of these countries execute people on a regular basis (Sangiorgio, 2011, p. 33).

Thus, on the whole, there has been a steady decrease in the use of the death penalty. However, the manner in which capital punishment is inflicted by governments indicates the absolute disregard for the minimum protections that have been established, in order to preclude the random dispossession of life (Sangiorgio, 2011, p. 33).

In the nations that regularly execute people; the authorities vociferously claim that they strictly comply with the minimum safeguards and international prohibitions. These norms have been stipulated in the international human rights standards, such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (United Nations Human Rights , 1966).

However, these claims notwithstanding, capital punishment in these countries is inflicted with scant regard for due process; the right to appeal for clemency or pardon of a sentence; and for non – lethal crimes, such as offences related to drugs and against political opponents (Sangiorgio, 2011, p. 33).

The minimum safeguards in this context, have been enumerated under the United Nations Safeguards Guaranteeing Protection to the Rights of Those Facing the Death Penalty. One of these safeguards relates to the transparency in the use of the death penalty. This is indispensable for ensuring the other restrictions specified by international human rights law and standards (Child Rights International Network, 2010). However, there is no transparency with respect to the issue of death penalty in many countries. This is in breach of the standards specified by the international human rights law.

Furthermore, transparency in the employment of the death penalty provides the added benefit of engendering a meaningful debate on the abolition of capital punishment. With the advent of the Internet, almost any type of information can be easily accessed. However, this has not transpired with regard to the death penalty (Sangiorgio, 2011, p. 33). Information in this area tends to be scarce and hearsay.

For example, in the year 2010, some 527 executions had transpired in 23 countries. However, this information did not include the number of execution taking place in China, which has repeatedly refused to divulge information regarding the number of people that it puts to death (Amnesty International, 2011).

Furthermore, Afghanistan, Indonesia, Mongolia, Pakistan, Saint Kitts and the United Arab Emirates did not report any executions (Sangiorgio, 2011, p. 34). This is despite the fact that these countries routinely execute people.

Moreover, executions were carried out in Bahrain, Belarus, Equatorial Guinea, the Palestinian Authority, Somalia and Taiwan in the year 2010, after a considerable interval. At that point, of time, the death sentence had been imposed upon some 17,833 people, all over the world (Sangiorgio, 2011, p. 35).

Furthermore, it has been estimated that some 2024 death sentences had been imposed in 67 countries in the year 2010 (Halperin, 2013).

Some significant progress was witnessed during the year 2010, with regard to the abolition of capital punishment. For instance, the President of Mongolia declared a moratorium on executions, Cuba commuted the last death sentence, and a third resolution relating to a moratorium on capital punishment was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly, via its resolution 65/206 on 21 December 2010 (Sangiorgio, 2011, p. 35).

This resolution reiterates the previous resolutions 62/149 and 63/168 of the United Nations General Assembly, which had called for the bestowal of respect towards international norms that guarantee the protection of the rights of individuals sentenced to death. These resolutions have the capacity to progressively limit the infliction of the death penalty, reduce the offences that attract the death penalty and establish a moratorium on executions. Significant improvement has been noticed in the progress towards abolishing the death penalty at the global level. However, most of the countries that retain the death penalty have continued to execute individuals in gross violation of international human rights norms and laws (Sangiorgio, 2011, p. 35).

Aristotle’s Principle of Equality

The Aristotelian principle of equality dictates that similar cases should be accorded the same treatment. In fact, comparative justice mandates that judges should uphold this all – important doctrine. Moreover, unlike case should be treated differentially, in a manner that is directly proportional to the disparity between them (Lenta & Farland, 2008, p. 276). However, comparative justice necessarily incorporates unpredictability or unfair discrimination to some extent.

A conflict between two principles transpires, whenever there is an arbitrary and discriminatory application of a law that mandates capital punishment for the most heinous murderers. There are several drawbacks inherent in contemporary society and its institutions. Therefore, it would not be farfetched to presume that a certain degree of arbitrariness and discrimination persist in this world (Lenta & Farland, 2008, p. 277). From this perspective, it appears to be prudent and equitable to abolish the death penalty.

Such thinking is based on the perception that this could be the only means of preventing equally guilty murderers from being inflicted with punishment of differing severity. However, if comparative justice is to be ensured in this manner, then there will be a reduction in non – comparative justice, due to the fact that those who are to be put to death, as per the law and who have been so sentenced, will be receive a less stringent punishment (Lenta & Farland, 2008, p. 277).

If it is presumed that abolition is a normal good or a good for which rising income creates an increase in demand, then economic theory would predicts that the abolition of the death penalty would be made more likely by economic development. The work of Palmer and Henderson has shown an important outcome of the acquisition of wealth by societies and individuals on an average. This relates to the marked reluctance among such societies and its members to inflict cruel and unusual punishment upon criminals (Neumayer, 2008).

International Conventions on Human Rights

In the year 1966, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Article 6 of this Covenant stipulates the limitations on the employment of the death penalty. In addition, it specifies the precautions to be taken in capital cases. The provisions of Paragraph 2 of this Article restrict the use of the death penalty to the most serious crimes. These have been construed as lethal crimes or crimes with consequences of an extremely grave nature (Sangiorgio, 2011, p. 36). However, these provisions have not been accorded importance by the member states.

In addition, it has been stated by the United Nations Human Rights Committee that the term most serious crimes has to be interpreted restrictively. This would have the effect of rendering the death penalty an exceptional measure. Nevertheless, in the year 2010, there had been instances of executions for crimes that were not intentional crimes (Sangiorgio, 2011, p. 36). Moreover, these offences were not accompanied by lethal or grave consequences.

Some of these crimes included, apostasy, economic crimes, sexual intercourse between consenting adults, and sorcery. In addition, there were several nations, wherein drug offenders had been executed. Thus, a substantial proportion of the individuals who had been executed in China, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Laos, Libya, Thailand, United Arab Emirates and Yemen were convicted for possession or trafficking narcotic substances (Sangiorgio, 2011, p. 36).

Additionally, Article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights declares that the death penalty should be implemented only after a final judgement has been pronounced by a competent court (Bouchet-Saulnier, 2007, p. 67).

Moreover, Safeguard 5 of the Safeguards Guaranteeing Protection of the Rights of Those Facing the Death Penalty was adopted by means of resolution 1984/50 by the United Nations Economic and Social Council (Sangiorgio, 2011, p. 36).

It specifies that capital punishment should be carried out only after a final judgement has been rendered by a competent court. The judgement should be the culmination of a legal process that provides all possible safeguards to ensure that the trial is fair. The minimum standard expected is that stipulated under Article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Any individual charged with a crime that could attract capital punishment is entitled to adequate legal assistance at all stages of the trial. Nevertheless, unfair trials and sentences continue to be imposed on the basis of confessions that seem to have been obtained under duress, including torture (Sangiorgio, 2011, p. 36). As of the year 2010, several instances of imposition of capital punishment came to light, in which the trial had failed to comply with the international standards of fairness.

These countries included, the People’s Republic of China, Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gambia, Libya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen. In this context, the rights of migrant workers tend to be seriously compromised. For instance, the United Arab Emirates executed 17 migrant Indian workers, without a fair trial, in the year 2010 (Sangiorgio, 2011, p. 36). These hapless workers had not been provided with legal representation or translation assistance. These issues are a gross violation of international human rights law.

Arguments that oppose capital punishment tend to be based upon judicial, psychological, and sociological considerations. It is a sad commentary upon the legal system that it has its share of lacunae and errors. Consequently, several innocent individuals continue to be convicted and even executed. In general, the members of the minority community are executed with disturbing regularity; whereas, those belonging to the white community and the wealthy are not executed (Martens, 1989).

Several sociological studies have disclosed the futility of capital punishment acting as a deterrent to crime. It has rightly been contended that life imprisonment is a better and more humane form of punishment, in comparison to the death penalty (Martens, 1989). Depriving a criminal of his life is tantamount to preventing that person from repenting his crime.

From the psychological perspective, the death penalty is an act of undiluted evil, as it satisfies the desire for revenge. Strictly speaking, the death penalty is a virulent form of retaliation. Furthermore, executing a criminal renders society guilty of committing the very same evil for which the criminal has been put to death (Martens, 1989).

However, the Holy Bible constitutes an active votary of the death penalty. For example, at Deuteronomy 13:10 – 11, it declares that the death penalty acts as a deterrent to crime. Moreover, the Mennonites who promote the death penalty have made the specious allegation that sociological surveys are unreliable (Martens, 1989).

It is wrong to contend that capital punishment is aimed at exacting revenge. There is a vast difference between revenge and execution after a proper judicial process. With regard to depriving the convict of an opportunity to repent, it is to be understood that the condemned individual will experience a much greater urgency to repent his life of crime, due to the limited time for which he can expect to live. It would be more beneficial to rectify the legal system and incorporate better safeguards, instead of abolishing the death penalty (Martens, 1989)

Philosophical Argument against the Death Penalty

It cannot be gainsaid that every individual possess an unassailable right to life. This encompasses even those who commit murder. Hence, the imposition of the death penalty violates that right. This argument, which is akin to the value of life contention, is from the human rights point of view. It is sought to be refuted by the claim that upon murdering another, the perpetrator is automatically deprived of all human rights, including the right to life (BBC Ethics Guide, 2013).

For instance, if a person commences a murderous attack and if the only means of safeguarding life is for the victim to retaliate by killing that person, then the perpetrator of the murderous attack stands deprived of the right to life. This was stated succinctly by Aquinas who declared that any individual, who was a danger to the community and was undermining it by some sin, was to be put to death (BBC Ethics Guide, 2013).

This would effectively safeguard the common good. Consequently, it is justified to execute a man, just as it is justified and even rational to kill a dangerous beast. This had also been supported by the Greek Philosopher Aristotle, who believed that an evil man was more dangerous that a beast and far more harmful (BBC Ethics Guide, 2013). From the above discussion, it becomes evident that the medieval philosopher Aquinas was convinced that under certain circumstances, a bad act could transform into a good act.

A common and cogent contention that decries capital punishment, states that in the long run, there is every possibility that innocent people will be put to death. This would constitute a grave travesty of justice that had been brought about by the defects in the criminal justice system. As is well known, jurors, prosecutors, and witnesses are liable to commit mistakes. In conjunction with a flawed criminal justice system, this would bring about the wrongful conviction of people (BBC Ethics Guide, 2013). When the punishment awarded is capital punishment, such mistake cannot be reversed or rectified. As such, the death penalty should be abolished to avoid the possibility of the innocent being put to death.

Kant’s Justification of Capital Punishment

The jus talionis constitutes the commencement of Kant’s justification of the death penalty. This principle specifies the manner in which legal institutions should arrive at the quantum and quality of punishment to be inflicted upon a lawbreaker. It is Kant’s conviction that the principle of jus talionis instructs legal officials to put convicted killers to death (Murphy, 1979, p. 231).

However, Kant has proffered an argument that is weak and susceptible to attack. Essentially, Kant employs different concepts of this principle to determine the punishment to be meted out to criminals, without providing any justification for utilising these different perceptions (Yost, 2010, p. 5). Kant’s claim, per se that the murderer should be put to death appears arbitrary and devoid of motivation.

Absence of a Deterrence Effect

Despite claims to the contrary, the death penalty is singularly ineffective in preventing people from engaging in serious violent crimes. It is the possibility of being apprehended and punished that acts as a deterrent. Social scientists, in the main, have concluded that the death penalty’s deterrent effect has not been established (BBC Ethics Guide, 2013).

In the year 1988, the United Nations conducted a survey, with the express intent of determining the correlation betwixt homicide rates and the death penalty. The data obtained from this survey was updated in the year 1996, which declared that there was no scientific evidence to prove that the death penalty’s deterrent effect was greater than that of life imprisonment. True deterrence is possible, only when the possibility of detection, arrest and conviction is increased (BBC Ethics Guide, 2013). Although the death penalty is a harsh measure, it does not have a stringent effect upon crime. Hence, it is not advisable to continue with the capital punishment, which does not have any positive influence upon the criminal justice system.

In addition, there is substantial research to indicate that the death penalty fails to deter crime. Another factor that discredits the death penalty is its exorbitant cost. For instance, a study was conducted in Indiana, which disclosed that capital punishment involved expenditure that was ten times more than life imprisonment without parole. One of the few redeeming features of the death penalty is that juries can make a forceful punitive statement. In addition, prosecutors can coerce offenders to cooperate or submit to plea bargains (Garland, 2010, p. A. 6).

Brutalising Effect on Individuals

Society tends to be brutalised by the death penalty, as demonstrated by the relevant statistics. In addition to the brutalisation of society, the death penalty brings about an increase in the murder rate. With regard to the US, it has been discovered that more murders take place in the states that impose the death penalty, in comparison to the states that have abolished the death penalty (BBC Ethics Guide, 2013).

For instance, in the year 2010, the murder rate in states without the death penalty was 4.01%. The corresponding proportion in the states that imposed the death penalty was 5%. This data was provided by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. There has been a steady increase in the gap between the states with the death penalty and those without the death penalty, from the year 1990 to 2010. The death penalty has the dangerous effect of causing some of the disturbed individuals to become enraged and thereby more likely to murder others. It has also been associated with an increase in the murder of police officers (BBC Ethics Guide, 2013). Capital punishment has the capacity to brutalise society in a fundamental manner, which could seriously affect the relationship between the state and its citizens.

Brutalising Effect on the Law

It has been contended that capital punishment creates an undesirable association between violence and the law. However, the law tends to be irretrievably correlated to violence. For instance, it punishes violent crime, and inflicts punishments that violently limit human freedoms. From the philosophical perspective, the law is invariably involved with violence, as its function encompasses protecting society from violence. Nevertheless, legal violence differs from criminal violence, and is equitable and rational (BBC Ethics Guide, 2013).

Psychological Argument against the Death Penalty

Arguments that oppose capital punishment tend to be based upon judicial, psychological, and sociological considerations. It is a sad commentary upon the legal system that it has its share of lacunae and errors. Therefore, several innocent individuals continue to be convicted and even executed. In general, the members of the minority community are executed with disturbing regularity; whereas, those belonging to the white community and the wealthy are not executed (Martens, 1989).

Several sociological studies have disclosed the futility of capital punishment acting as a deterrent to crime. It has rightly been contended that life imprisonment is a better and more humane form of punishment, in comparison to the death penalty (Martens, 1989). Depriving a criminal of his life is tantamount to preventing that person from repenting his crime.

From the psychological perspective, the death penalty is an act of undiluted evil, as it satisfies the desire for revenge. Strictly speaking, the death penalty is a virulent form of retaliation. Furthermore, executing a criminal renders society guilty of committing the very same evil for which the criminal has been put to death (Martens, 1989).

However, the Holy Bible constitutes an active votary of the death penalty. For example, at Deuteronomy 13:10 – 11, it declares that the death penalty acts as a deterrent to crime. Moreover, the Mennonites who promote the death penalty have made the specious allegation that sociological surveys are unreliable (Martens, 1989).

Nevertheless, it is wrong to contend that capital punishment is aimed at exacting revenge. There is a vast difference between revenge and execution after a proper judicial process. With regard to depriving the convict of an opportunity to repent, it is to be understood that the condemned individual will experience a much greater urgency to repent his life of crime, due to the limited time for which he can expect to live. It would be more beneficial to rectify the legal system and incorporate better safeguards, instead of abolishing the death penalty (Martens, 1989).

Sociological Argument against the Death Penalty

It is the contention of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty that the basic tenets of a democracy are violated by capital punishment. However, there is no clarification forthcoming with regard to the exact nature of these tenets. These have merely been equated with the protection of basic civil liberties (Kaufman – Osborn, 2006, p. 368).

The description of what differentiates a democracy from other forms of political order, provided by the ACLU, is attenuated to a considerable extent. All that can be stated is that the ACLU apparently identifies democracy with a specific idea regarding sovereignty. A commitment to popular sovereignty, by itself, is not at variance with the practice of capital punishment. All the same, when popular sovereignty is affected by constitutional limitations that have been imposed in the name of the law, capital punishment becomes worthy of condemnation, on account of its arbitrary and discriminatory application (Kaufman – Osborn, 2006, p. 368).

Furthermore, the sociologist Haines applied the social constructionist theories of social problems and social movement analysis to the anti – death penalty activism in the US. In this endeavour, Haines had concentrated upon the conduct of the Legal Defense Fund, the America Civil Liberties Union, Amnesty International USA and the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (Dorin, 1996).

These organisations suffered from a paucity of funds and relied upon a narrow segment of the population, consisting primarily of white, liberal, middle – class professionals. These attempts to bring about the abolition of the death penalty had met with failure at the hands of the overwhelming movement favouring capital punishment in the US (Dorin, 1996).

Haines had conducted interviews with a large number of the influential members of the movement for abolishing capital punishment. He identified four abolitionist eras in the US, with regard to capital punishment. The strongest era was that in which there had been a demand for improved due process in capital cases. The culmination of this movement was the abolition of the death penalty statue throughout the US. However, in the current fourth era, it has become evident that the federal courts are no longer in a position to restrict the imposition of capital punishment (Dorin, 1996).

The Death Penalty in the European Union

One of the conditions for becoming a Member State of the European Union is abolition of the death penalty. This is also the requirement under the European Convention on Human Rights, which was signed by the UK in the year 1999. It was disclosed by the Human rights charity Reprieve that the denizens of the British Isles harboured a sane and humane attitude towards capital punishment and would never consent to executions in the UK (metrowebukmetro, 2009).

Racial hostility assumes greater significance with regard to the criminal justice system. In this system, the uncompromising obligation is to punish offenders, and this is largely in the context of the public. It is evidently, a much simpler matter to punish individuals who have already been branded as iniquitous and sub – human (Lynch & Haney, 2011, p. 72).

In general, the status of criminals tends to be substantially lowered, and this serves to reduce social inhibition against inflicting them with severe punishment. In addition, it becomes simpler to be convinced that individuals from social groups that have already been denigrated deserve punishment. In the white dominated societies, the ethnic minorities are generally stigmatised, and these people are believed to be inherently immoral or even iniquitous (Lynch & Haney, 2011, p. 72).

Furthermore, the conviction that certain groups of society incorporate inherent immorality renders the task of the dominant groups simpler. This is with regard to punishing the supposedly deviant persons, by adopting legal processes that are flawed and biased. Another aspect that works to the detriment of such social groups, is that these individuals are feared and despised, albeit unjustly and without justification, which simplifies the task of exaggerating the gravity of their transgressions. The outcome of such measures is the infliction of punishment that is substantially disproportionate to their offence (Lynch & Haney, 2011, p. 73).

The Death Penalty in China

There has been considerable improvement on the part of the Chinese government with regard to its death penalty system, in the recent years. All the same, no fundamental change has been effected to the state of affairs obtaining in China. The legal developments in that country will determine the future of the death penalty, with democratic developments having negligible influence (Yunhai, 2008, p. 137).

In the societies of East Asia, the death penalty constitutes a focal point that has the capacity to elaborate upon issues relating to punishment. There is a close relationship between society and punishment in China. This country enjoys the dubious distinction of having the maximum number of executions and imposition of death sentences, among the nations of the world (Yunhai, 2008, p. 137).

It has been estimated by some that there are around 1,000 to 3,000 executions per year in China, whilst Amnesty International has assessed this to be more than the combined total of executions in all the other nations. As such, the actual number of executions are shrouded in secrecy, due to the fact that the Chinese government has categorically refused to divulge such information. All that is known is the number of offences that attract the death penalty (Chen, 2013, p. 49).

Two factors come to the fore, when one refers to crime. These are some form of illicit conduct and the reaction of society, which labels the conduct as criminal. Thus, criminal status and the conduct that is described as criminal are determined by the public’s emotional response and the circumstances of the case. In classic criminology there is a concept termed the black number, which has been defined as the number of criminal acts committed but not recognised by the criminal justice system. Another important notion is that of false number, or the number of criminal acts erroneously believed by the members of society to have transpired (Yunhai, 2008, p. 140).

Her Majesty’s Government is principally seized with promoting human rights and democracy. As a corollary, the UK tends to be considerably concerned with the death penalty. It has been the tradition with the UK to oppose the death penalty, under all circumstances as a matter of principle (Foreign & Commonwealth Office, 2011).

The Death Penalty in the United Kingdom

The powers that be in the UK regard the death penalty as an undesirable intervention, since it undermines human dignity and is devoid of deterrent value. Furthermore, any miscarriage of justice resulting in the imposition of the death penalty has irreversible results (Foreign & Commonwealth Office, 2011).

The UK is also very much apprehensive of the imposition of the death penalty by foreign powers. This is due to the fact that there are several UK nationals who have been sentenced to death. The death penalty affects the provision of police, or other justice and security assistance to nations that impose the death penalty. In addition, it has a significant effect upon the extradition of criminals; as these felons could be subjected to death upon extradition (Foreign & Commonwealth Office, 2011).

Despite not being abolished by the international law, the death penalty tends to be strongly opposed by the international community. In fact, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights at Article 6(6) states that no provision of this Article is to be invoked to defer or prevent the eradication of capital punishment by any State Party to the Covenant. Moreover, this Covenant directs that the death penalty has to be restricted to the most heinous of crimes, such as murder (Foreign & Commonwealth Office, 2011).

The UK has resolved to lobby for the discontinuance of the death penalty in the places where this pernicious practice is in force. It has also resolved to lobby for the use of the death penalty in a manner that is compliant with the minimum standards of the European Union, the United Nations Safeguards Guaranteeing Protection of the Rights of those facing the Death Penalty, and other international norms that seek to limit the death penalty (Foreign & Commonwealth Office, 2011).

Despite these official commitments, there has been increasing support among the people for enacting laws that would impose the death penalty upon terrorists (Express, 2013).

The recent spate of crimes has resulted in strident calls for imposing the death penalty upon deserving criminals. However, human rights activists contend that there has been a gradual emasculation in the support for capital punishment. The last execution in the UK was in the year 1964 (metrowebukmetro, 2009). Subsequently, in the year 1969 the death penalty was abolished for murder, and in the year 1998 for all cases.

Nevertheless, a recent poll conducted by Harris Interactive, indicates that 54% of the populace were in favour of capital punishment, whilst 30% were opposed to it. The chief proponents of the death penalty were seen to be the older sections of society. Among the individuals who support the death penalty, 94% recommended it for murder, 68% for war crimes, and 62% for those found guilty of child abuse. Moreover, 29% have recommended the death penalty for drug dealers and 45% want it to be implemented with respect to rapists and criminals involved in gun crime (metrowebukmetro, 2009).

The Death Penalty in the US

The death penalty is presumed to belong to the category of cruel and unusual punishments. This does not apply to the US, where the wealthier individuals have also been seen to be in favour of capital punishment. Consequently, the influence of economic development, as evaluated by increase in the average income tends to be uncertain. Several non – state entities and transnational advocacy groups have been exerting considerable influence on the development of the international human rights regime (Neumayer, 2008).

Furthermore, these entities and groups have successfully portrayed the death penalty as a human rights issue and have been actively lobbying for its abolition, at the international level. Some of these entities and groups are the Amnesty International and the Human Rights Watch. It is important to establish the death penalty as a violation of universal human rights issue. This classification will ensure that the countries seized with abolishing the death penalty will no longer be tolerant of the countries that conduct executions (Neumayer, 2008).

One instance is provided by the EU, which has clearly stated that it opposes the death penalty, without any exception, and accordingly strives to bring about its universal abolition. In the year 1998, the EU published its guidelines for the third countries, in the context of the death penalty. These guidelines declare that the EU has progressed from abolishing the death penalty among its Member States to promoting its abolition in other regions (Neumayer, 2008).

Rights of Children and the Death Penalty

A recent development has been the inclusion of the issues relating to the rights of children whose parents have been imprisoned. The Human Rights Council, in the year 2012, adopted a resolution on the rights of the child, which referred to the children of those who had been condemned to death. This council directed the various nations to furnish sufficient information regarding a pending execution, in order to permit a final communication, and to facilitate the making of funeral arrangements (International Commission against the Death Penalty, 2012).

At the very least, it called upon the states to provide information regarding the location of the body of the executed person. Although, the focus had been on the welfare and rights of the children of those who had been imprisoned, the benefit provided by this approach was that it included the rights of the child into the debate on abolishing capital punishment (International Commission against the Death Penalty, 2012).

The All – Party Parliamentary Group on the Death Penalty, has attempted to assist the government of the UK to be more effective with regards to it abolition policy. This Group generates queries and promotes public debate in countries that impose the death penalty, or in individual cases. It has also been envisaged by this Group to visit countries with the death penalty and parley with their parliamentarians. The objective is to discuss the abolition of the death penalty from the political perspective. Moreover, this Group has established a database of parliamentarians across the world, who are in support of abolishing the death penalty (International Commission against the Death Penalty, 2012).

The United Nations General Assembly had intended to conduct a vote on a resolution to declare a moratorium on the death penalty. This was aimed at the nations that continued to execute criminals, and the final objective was to abolish capital punishment. Moreover, there was to be a call upon the nations to limit the number of crimes that invited the death penalty, provide data regarding the number of people executed, and to respect the international norms relating to the protection of those condemned to death. Although this resolution does not possess a binding nature, it is intended to function as a potent political and moral device that could establish abolition as crucial feature of international customary law (International Commission against the Death Penalty, 2012).

Conclusion

In accordance with the above discussion, the death penalty should be abolished, as it is inhumane and unjustified. In most of the countries, the death penalty continues to be implemented in a manner that violates international human rights. Moreover, the manner of imposing the death penalty indicates absolute disregard for the internationally established minimum protections aimed at preventing the random dispossession of life.

In most of the countries, the death penalty is imposed by ignoring due process, denying the right to appeal for pardon or clemency, and with regard to drug related offences and other forms of non – lethal crimes. The United Nations Safeguards Guaranteeing Protection to the Rights of Those Facing the Death Penalty has stipulated the minimum safeguards, with respect to the death penalty.

In several countries, the infliction of the death penalty is shrouded in secrecy. For instance, China has refused to divulge information regarding the number of people it puts to death. One estimate puts the annual number of executions in this country from 1,000 to 3,000. However, the Amnesty International has stated that this number is much greater, and more than the total number of executions by all the other countries.

Some countries, such as Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates are even worse and do not even admit that they execute people. Such is their duplicity.

Aristotle’s principle of equality demands that the same treatment should be accorded to similar cases. However, it has to be acknowledged that comparative justice tends to be discriminatory or unpredictable to some extent.

When viewed from the psychological perspective, the death penalty is iniquitous, as it satisfies the desire for revenge. Moreover, from the philosophical perspective, the death penalty is to be decried, as every individual is entitled to an inalienable right to life. Furthermore, the infliction of the death penalty will bring about the wrongful execution of an innocent individual, at some stage. This has been reiterated by sociological studies, which have shown that the death penalty has failed to deter crime.

In addition, Kant’s views regarding capital punishment are weak and without adequate justification. Data collected by the United Nations has shown that the death penalty does not have a deterrent effect that surpasses that of life imprisonment.

Another major defect with capital punishment is that it brutalises society and enhances the murder rate. For instance, it has been observed in the US that the rate of murders is more in states that execute criminals than in the states that do not impose the death penalty.

With regard to the European Union, its condition for membership is the abolition of the death penalty. As such, the European Union is actively engaged in bringing about the abolition of the death penalty, all over the world. This has also been stipulated by the European Convention on Human Rights.

In the US, the wealthy and influential sections of society are in favour of capital punishment. In that country, the death penalty is imposed upon the ethnic minorities and the poorer sections of society. The wealthy and the influential sections of society are not subjected to such punishment. Despite these developments and statistics, a recent poll in the UK, which had been conducted by Harris Interactive, disclosed that more than half of the population was in favour of capital punishment.

Thus, it becomes evident that the death penalty grossly violates human rights, and in countries like the US, its continuance is due to the influential and wealthy sections of society. The death penalty fails to provide a deterrent effect and on the contrary tends to brutalise society and the law. The time has drawn nigh to abolish it all over the world, and the efforts of the European Union should serve as a shining example for this highly commendable effort.

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Abolition of the Death Penalty. (March 14, 2021).
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