Death Penalty: Should It Exit or not?
December 9, 2010, 4:56 am
International human rights groups, including Amnesty International, are seen vigorously demanding that killing people in the name of punishment or law should not be continued. They have vociferously demanded the end of death penalty, which still exists in both democratic and non-democratic countries today.
Personally, I have in the past been a strong opponent of capital punishment. It left me in utter consternation when an Australian drug smuggler was executed by the Singapore government. The thing that bothered me was whether the death penalty was justifiable regarding the severity of the crime.
Smuggling illegal drugs could be catastrophic to many who abuse them and thus destroy their lives. Being a mediator who helps to destroy the lives of many others is surely a punishable offense. But the death sentence for the crime when the criminal himself doesn't hold the sole liability seems an excessive form of punishment. A drug smuggler doesn't kill anyone intentionally, but the offense could a shared by a wide range of people from the suppliers to those who consume the drug.
But it is another matter when perpetrators intentionally kill other persons. Murder could be intentional, defensive, or accidental. In the first kind there should never be any mercy.
Advocacy against the death sentence could sound genuine for less severe forms of crimes other than intentional murders, and its even more regrettable if any innocent suffers the death sentence. But what about the evil instinct of murderers who, without fearing any punishment that would be equally severe as their crime, messily and carelessly takes the lives of others?
In one example, the event of a daylight kidnapping and murder of a child has stirred my feelings that it is unfair that our country, Nepal, doesn't have any provision to punish the culprits (who are in the custody right now) with the death penalty. Not only in Nepal, but there are several such instances around the world where children are kidnapped, their vital organs like kidneys are taken to sell in the illegal markets, and they are eventually killed to conceal the crime.
Nepal joins the list of countries that have refrained from capital punishment. The case was different during the time of the Panchayati autocracy or in the time of despotic Rana oligarchy, when innocent people were killed in the name of punishment whenever the autocrats feared any conspiracy or any threat against their tyranny. Similar was the example in Saddam Hussein's rule in Iraq, where dissidents were killed in a most ruthless manner, and again in the name of "punishment."
The question here is whether the capital punishment should be totally abolished, no matter whether it's carried out by a despotic ruler or in a democratic state. To a certain extent, the discontinuation of the death sentence could be justifiable. But lawmakers around the world should given serious thought to what to do in instances when it seems that lack of a death sentence has given license to murderers.
Intentional murders shouldn't warrant any clemency, and any punishment less than the death sentence wouldn't be helpful to deter such heinous acts by criminals in the future.
Regarding the kidnapping and murder of the child, and taking into account that he was not only the victim, and that a significant number of criminal gangs may be behind these crimes, there seems an urgency to impose capital punishment in Nepal and elsewhere. Even some members of the Parliament in Nepal have demanded that capital punishment should be imposed here.
Crimes other than murders, even if they are severe in nature, could be corrected or amended at some point in the criminal's life. A culprit could apologize and compensate the victim, or the victim could eventually forgive the culprit. But murder is something that never can be corrected. A person killed can by no means come back to life, nor can any death be compensated by any means or by any amount of money. Thus, is there anything that could answer a murderer other than the death penalty itself?