[Deathpenalty]death penalty news-----worldwide
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Fri Feb 18 10:40:01 CST 2005
Assembly begins deliberation on death penalty for 1st time
Finally putting spurs to the long-abated move, the National Assembly
yesterday commenced its 1st ever deliberation on a bill to abolish the
controversial death penalty.
The Assembly's Legislation and Judiciary Committee opened its general
meeting and started discussing the bill to ban capital punishment
submitted by Uri lawmaker Yoo Ihn-tae and signed by a total of 175
The proposed bill would scrap the death penalty and replace it with a
punishment of life imprisonment, with no parole or pardon possible.
But Justice Minister Kim Seung-kyu, in yesterday's meeting, expressed
concern over the spreading move to ban capital punishment and said the
penalty should be maintained for now.
"(The death penalty is needed) in cases of terrorist attacks where one
criminal may claim many lives," Kim said.
There are currently 57 convicts waiting on death row, with the last
execution in December 1997, shortly before President Kim Dae-jung, an avid
advocator against capital punishment, took office.
It is the 1st time for the Assembly's legislation committee to officially
deliberate the bill on banning the death penalty after repeated attempts
failed in the past. A similar bill was presented to the National Assembly
in 1999, and again in 2001, but both attempts were thwarted by the
judiciary committee and the bills never made it to a vote.
But it is highly likely the bill will survive the judiciary committee this
time, as most of the committee members are lawyers supporting reform,
Of the 15-member judiciary committee, there are 8 Uri members, 5 GNP
members and 1 from the Democratic Labor Party.
Most of the 8 Uri lawmakers including Choi Yong-gyu, Jung Seong-ho, Lee
In-young and Woo Yoon-keun support the ban of the death penalty, while
most of the five GNP lawmakers such as Joo Sung-young and Kim Seong-jo
contend the punishment should be kept intact. DLP's Roh Hoe-chan agrees to
veto the capital punishment.
Any bill deliberated and passed at the judiciary committee is passed on to
the Assembly's plenary session for a final vote.
"The death penalty is a cruel and inhumane punishment that violates the
fairness, appropriateness, not to mention the balance of the benefit and
protection of the law," Rep. Yoo Ihn-tae said.
"For a state authority to forfeit a human being's life contradicts the
virtue of the Constitution."
Rep. Yoo, once on death row himself for violating martial law under a
military government in the 1970s, is backed by a large group of lawyers
and a coalition of religious leaders against capital punishment.
Those who support the ban of capital punishment maintain that the penalty
not only violates a person?s basic right but also fails to provide any
responsibility for putting innocents on death row.
Those who argue in favor of the death penalty claim it is a deterrent to
Although the Assembly has sped up the move to scrapping the punishment,
prospects of the bill passing parliament still remain murky, other
"I think it would be quite difficult for the bill to pass during this
special session," Uri's head lawmaker for the judiciary committee Choi
Choi added because there is still some opposition, a public hearing by
inviting representatives from diverse sections of society will be held to
GNP's head lawmaker of the committee Chang Yoon-seok agreed and said, "We
first need to gather as many opinions as possible. It is unlikely the bill
will pass this session."
The special session that opened this month ends March 2.
(source: The Korea Herald)
Death Penalty 'Not an Option'
As pressure mounts for the nation to debate a death penalty for serious
crime, human rights organisations say that besides being out of line with
the Constitution, they are strongly opposed to such suggestions.
Both the Legal Assistance Centre (LAC) and the National Society for Human
Rights (NSHR) said this week that capital punishment had not solved the
problem of high rates of violent crime in countries where it is in force.
"We condemn it. We agree the society is sick, but the death penalty is not
the answer," NSHR spokesperson Dorkas Nangolo-Phillemon said.
Added the LAC's Norman Tjombe:"A society so passionate about protecting
its citizens should not stoop to the level of criminals by killing people
[which is] exactly what we are trying to prevent. Revenge is not the
answer. The answer lies in reducing violence, not causing more death."
Constitutionally, such a move cannot even be contemplated, as the right to
life is entrenched in the Namibian Constitution.
This means that it cannot be amended by parliament for purposes of
diminishing or detracting from the fundamental rights, even if there is a
national referendum calling for such an amendment.
On Tuesday, Minister of Women Affairs and Child Welfare Netumbo
Nandi-Ndaitwah suggested to the National Assembly that the nation should
consider discussing capital punishment, especially for those convicted of
She was reacting to the sexual assault and murder of 2 girls aged 3 and 5
in Windhoek and Swakopmund in the past 2 weeks.
Monitor Action Group's Kosie Pretorius also once again moved for such
discussion in the National Assembly, both on Tuesday and again on
Wednesday, after first making the suggestion in the House last year.
On Tuesday, his request was ruled out of order and Pretorius once again
pushed for it to be considered by rephrasing his question on Wednesday.
The LAC said the rights and freedoms guaranteed in the Constitution were
not the obstacle to eradicating crime, but that the country rather had to
rectify an attitude of impunity that has sprung up among criminals.
Tjombe was of the opinion that this situation was as a result of serious
crimes such as rape and violence against women and children often going
"Taking the life of the perpetrator is also barbaric and we should never
have a barbaric society," said Tjombe.
The LAC maintains that poor policing and investigation methods, which
often result in cases being thrown out of court or suspects being
acquitted, contribute to an attitude of impunity among criminals.
"I think the most effective tool for the effective eradication of crime is
a well-equipped and professional police, prosecution and court system,"
The NSHR was of the opinion that the spate of violent crime was a
manifestation of what was happening in the country.
Nangolo-Phillemon said Government had to set about reducing poverty,
corruption and alcohol abuse as a starting point to reducing crime.
She maintained that people resorted to crime largely because of these
factors in their efforts to make a living.
(source: The Namibian)
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