[Deathpenalty] death penalty news-----worldwide
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Tue May 27 10:41:28 CDT 2008
Citizens Fear Death Sentence
Visiting the racial violence-torn South Africa at the time when riot
outbursts spreads like veld fires in most of the country's townships is
not only scaring but also heartbreaking.
The South African Broadcasting Corporation television stations are
characterised by gruesome footage of violence, death, burning shacks and
hundreds of Zimbabweans, Somalis and others who sought refuge at the
It appears that the targeted shacks are those that are occupied by
foreigners who are hunted like wild animals and assaulted to near-death
condition. Not only are they assaulted but even their belongings are
either burnt down to ashes or taken away from them.
Some Zimbabweans were captured having sought cover in the bushes during a
Special Assignment program. With their tears strolling down their cheeks,
they narrated how they were dispossessed of their hard end belongings and
their shacks burnt down. They were making fire by the riverbank with dry
grass just to keep warm from the chilling and numbing low temperatures.
Also, some unlucky South Africans succumbed after they were brutally
assaulted in cases of mistaken identity. This may have resulted from the
fact that as the mob ascends on you they give no time for explanation.
During the Special Assignment program the brother to the poor South
African narrated how his efforts to save his young brother were futile as
he tried to explain to the mob the identity of the young man.
He said many died a day after he was discharged from the hospital.
Pictures of the police trying to disperse the angry mobs and fire fighters
distinguishing the burnt homesteads are regular features on television
As soon as the riots subsided in one area, it started elsewhere. It
appears that the situation may take long before the government fully
addresses it as residents appear to be unhappy with the government's
housing programme. The residents and say that foreigners are being given
priority over locals when it comes to allocation of houses.
Currently it is reported that about 3 million Zimbabweans have sought
refuge in South Africa and the number may shoot up due to political unrest
Interviewed by SABC, one economist indicated that the racial violence
poses a major blow to the economy and portrays the country unfriendly for
investors. Late last week it was reported that operations in a mine in
Johannesburg suffered due to the violence and one worker was reported to
However it is normal business in some parts of the country. The busy
Johannesburg airport is filled to capacity with people of all races
heading to their destinations and connecting to other flights.
Mingling with South Africans and the way they handle themselves in other
places shows a different picture of the country known for hijackings,
kidnapping, gunshots and all sorts of crime.
Depart for Bloemfontein, a young lady, a police officer from Nelspruit
approached and inquired about the flight to the same destination and I
asked her to wait as if I knew the place better than her. Travelling to
South Africa requires guts lest some tsotsis discover that you are not one
of their own and descend on you.
After learning that I am from Botswana she explained how she is afraid of
visiting Botswana because "there is a death penalty".
To her, if you face an offence you are destined for the gallows. "There
used to be such a penalty in SA but it has since been abolished because it
was not properly executed. Only blacks were sentenced to death while other
races were not".
Eventually a councillor from the new Nelson Mandela Municipality joined
and the discussion shifted to the African National Congress.
Once in the Bloemfontein airport a local Pastor joined me as I waited for
my colleague who was set to arrive in the next flight. The death penalty
issue cropped up after he discovered that I am from Botswana. "To be
honest I do not even wish to see myself in that country. I will have to
acquaint myself with Botswana's judicial system first so that I could know
which offences attract a death penalty. Otherwise a big 'no'!"
(source: Opinion, Onalenna Modikwa Bloemfontein; Mmegi/The Reporter)
The death penalty does not prevent murders
From: Rev Tony Buglass, Superintendent Minister, Upper Calder Methodist
Circuit, Caldene Ave, Mytholmroyd.
SORRY to be a pedant, but the comment that I called Michael Stephen of
Wilton a murderer (Letters, Yorkshire Post, May 20) is simply not true.
It is true that we were discussing the death penalty, and that he and I
didn't see eye to eye. My response to him was to note that his method was
to rubbish me personally but not address the actual issue.
The facts of the matter do not change. The death penalty neither deters
nor prevents murder. If it did, then those states in the US which have the
death penalty would have seen murder vanish. On the contrary, it seems to
be on the increase, because men who have killed in the course of a crime
are likely to kill in order to avoid capture. Or to offend again, because
once it has been done, it's easier to do it again. The other matter is the
problem of wrongful conviction. A postmortem pardon is as much use as a
The death penalty is wrong. It doesn't work, it is about revenge rather
than justice, and it does not achieve what it is claimed to achieve. As
far as I can see, no amount of bluster can counter that argument.
From: Alan W Briglin, Sefton Street, Hull.
In reply to your correspondents Michael Stephen Mycroft and Aled Jones
(Yorkshire Post, May 20) regarding their desires to restore the death
penalty for murder.
How would they justify the dozens of people indicted for murder and
subsequently found to be innocent beyond any doubt?
I put this question to a friend of mine once who was in favour of hanging
and she replied: "Well, one or two may fall by the wayside". Need I say
(source: Letters to the Editor, Yorkshire Post)
Abolishing capital punishment: second mistake
Punishment is supposed to be for the protection of society, and for the
reformation of the wrongdoer. It purports to protect society by preventing
the same criminals from repeating their crimes, and by acting as a
deterrent to other prospective criminals. Capital punishment is a
notorious failure in such respects. It does indeed remove removes the
particular culprit from the possibility of repeating his crime; but this
is of very small account in view of the fact that murder is seldom a
career of repeated acts but consists of single acts perpetrated by
different individuals. The man whom we remove from the scene, therefore,
is not the man who, if suffered to live, would have been likely to
endanger our safety.
As to the reformative character of punishment, it is scarcely necessary to
point out that capital punishment effectually removes all possibility of
this by cutting short the life of the offender and thus taking away both
his chance of reform and our opportunity of discharging the duty of
reforming him. Crime may be defined as an act that is punishable by the
law. It includes theft, robbery, dacoity, murder, kidnapping, smuggling,
narcotics trafficking, illegal transaction of foreign exchange and many
more.As prevention to other murderers, likewise, the death penalty has
proved a signal failure, as may be seen by comparing the criminal
statistics of those countries where the punishment is in force with those
of countries where it has been abolished. Nor is the reason of this
failure far to seek. Murders are nearly always committed in sudden fits of
passion or temporary insanity, when no consideration of reason or
self-interest can appeal to the doer. Further, such uncertainty attends
the consummation of the death sentence due to the natural hesitation and
inclination to mercy of judge and jury, to the chances of reprieve and
commutation that this penalty is far less deterrent than are those which,
though less severe are more certain. Finally, we have not answered the
question whether there are not other and more effective deterrents and
there are such deterrents, in comparison with which capital punishment is
seen to be clumsy and ineffectual in the extreme.
History of crime is as old as man itself. Crime took its start in the
history of mankind when Qabeel (Kane) murdered his brother Habeel (Able).
Since then crime is being committed throughout the world, varying in
nature and magnitude. No check or foolproof method has so for been evolved
that could eliminate crimes from the society. However, crime rates have
been considerably suppressed by the efficient performance of law enforcing
agencies in many countries of the world.
Capital punishment is irrevocable, and the errors of justice cannot be
rectified. All possibility of reconsideration is taken away Innocent
persons have been hanged, and judge, jury and the whole legal machinery
involved have thereby been made privy to the very crime they sought to
punish. In view of the very uncertain and unequal character of our merely
human endevours to mete out justice, no proceedings of ours should be of
this irrevocable character. So complex and uncertain is the process of
sifting whereby finally a few individual are sorted out from the mass and
consigned to punishment that the selection seems largely arbitrary and we
find that the actual convicts are no worse, and some perhaps even better
than many of whom the hand of the law never reaches. What principle of
equity or reason can justify us in singling out for our harshest
treatment, by so haphazard a method, a few individuals who for the most
part manifest no particular reasons why they and they alone, should be so
In Pakistan the graph of capital crimes has always remained rising despite
the numerous measures taken by the government from time to time.
Aggression and violence has become the characteristic trait of Pakistanis.
People are very much impulsive easily exit able and emotionally unstable.
Ability of a person to escape punishment after committing crime is being
considered a status symbol and people often boast about this ability.
Capital punishment sins deprive the culprits of his chances of
reformation. As a weaker brother, who has fallen through causes that are
inherent in our social structure, and for which we are all more or less
responsible, he should claim our care and protection. Our duty to society
is fulfilled by isolating the dangerous man for so long as he may continue
to be dangerous. As for deterrent action, this should be compassed, not by
fear, but by reformative and protective measures in our social policy. The
only way to destroy a criminal is by reforming the man who is a criminal.
To destroy his bodily life is nothing but a stupid blunder. Man is
extremely selfish by instinct, he is never scared to transgress the limits
and even shed the blood of his fellow beings to satisfy his self. Angels
were very right at the time of mans creation when they said, "Man will
create violence and shed blood in the world", (having such powers and
privileges). Man's both present and past bears testimony to this saying.
When the physical life of a criminal is cut short by this summary and
unnatural means, we don not bring to an end thereby the evil passions
which prompted the crime.
According to a study undertaken by the National Institute of Psychology,
Islamabad a motivation to murder is the human instinct to possess woman,
wealth and land. This research reveals that 41.3 % of the murder cases
relate to woman and land disputes, 16% to intra family problems, 7.8% to
old enmities, 6% to dacoity, street fighting and gambling and other petty
problems. Comparatively thin margin between love and hate existing there.
While dealing with Socio-psychological causes of the crimes, the
researchers found that 22.7% of the crimes were committed under social
value pressure which included avenge to save the honour of the family or
wash away the blot on such acts, are lauded socially. Capital punishment
is tantamount to a repudiation of the divine nature of man. On what
principles of religion philosophy can we justify the policy of depriving a
human being like ourselves of all possibility of reform? If we profess to
revere a God of mercy and justice, and if we ourselves supplicate and rely
on that divine mercy and justice, how can we reconcile it with our duty,
as men created in the divine image to dismiss thus roughly a fellow human
being from our midst and send him into the presence of the Deity whom we
have outraged? Surely it is our duty and our privilege to be the agents of
divine justice and mercy and to exert to the utmost our god-given powers
in the endeavor to assist our fallen brother to his feet.
There are various causes that lead to the occurrence of capital crimes in
our society. Poverty on one hand and strong desire to become overnight
rich on the other. Since the birth of Pakistan, the influential people
consisting of politicians, bureaucrats and big businessmen amassed wealth
by getting the evacuee property allotted to them. Though route permits.
Import licenses, expensive residential plots either free or on nominal
prices and by getting the loans amounting to millions of rupees waived off
from the government. It is well within the power of existing governments
to provide means whereby murderers, as well as other criminals can be
isolated in institutions where they can be humanely treated as patients or
people of unsound mind. And this must be made part of a general campaign
of educative and remedial treatment of crime outside prison walls. This
process of first carefully manufacturing criminals and then killing them
is an insult to our intelligence and culture. We must stop making them,
and if made, we must reform them. Ruling classes have to do all this just
to stay in power. This race for power and money is still going on. These
people have no principle, no ideology and no party affiliation. They are
ever ready to change their strata of society. They have evolved their own
ways and means to get their share from this loot for which they arrange
dacoities, smuggle heroine, kidnap people for ransom and don not hesitate
to kill anybody coming their way.
The world is passing through a crucial stage and the newborn spirit of a
kindly intelligence is struggling for manifestation. A new law of human
life has been impressed upon us and is superceding the old ideas that
served us provisionally in the past. The essence of this law is mercy and
brotherhood. But humanity needs help and light in its endeavours to
readjust its practices to its new and broader principles, its finer
feelings. By abolishing capital punishment in those places where it is
un-brotherly, craven in spirit, ruthless and unintelligent. The new law
which we all recognize allows no scope for punishment at all, except in
the reformative sense. Some parents' indifferent approach towards the
children's out door activities is also adding to the problem. Part played
by the educational institutions to build up the character of the students
is not at all encouraging. Coverage given to violence and crime by our
print and electronic media has greatly encouraged the spread of crime and
violence. Though the moral lesson is always against the convicts and
criminals but its presentation is such an attractive that the lesson
becomes a subsidiary matter and goes down under the shadow. All such
institutions are commercial in nature and they are bound to present things
in this way because the supply of violence in pictures has unfortunately
become the demand of the public.
(source: M Mahtab Bashir; The writer is a freelance political
Ethiopian Court Changes Life Sentence To Death Penalty For Former
Dictator, 17 Aides
Ethiopia's Supreme Court overturned Monday the life sentence on exiled
former leader Mengistu Haile Mariam and 17 of his top officials sentencing
them to death for committing genocide during their rule.
Supreme Court judge Desta Gebru issued the decision on the appeal of
prosecutors against the court's life sentence imposed last year on
Mengistu, former vice-president Fisseha Desta, former prime minister
Fikresellassie Wogderes, Legesse Afsaw, known as "the butcher of Tigre,"
and other senior aides of the ex-dictator.
The defense lawyers pleaded to reject the appeal for a death sentence but
the judge rejected the plea. Agence France-Presse quoted Gebru as saying,
"They have tortured and executed thousands of innocent people in public,
which applies as genocide according to Ethiopian law."
Mengistu, an army lieutenant colonel, ousted Emperor Haile Selassie in a
violent coup in 1974 and cracked down against opponents from 1977 to 1978.
In the crackdown known as the Red Terror, tens of thousands were massacred
and illegally detained.
Mengistu was toppled in 1991 and fled to Zimbabwe, where he now lives
comfortably as a special guest of President Robert Mugabe.
(source: All Headline News)
Ex-dictator Mengistu faces death penalty in Ethiopia
Ethiopia's Supreme Court has sentenced former Marxist dictator Mengistu
Haile Mariam to death in absentia, after he was found guilty of genocide.
The court followed the prosecution's request for tougher punishment,
overturning a life sentence handed down in 2007.
Mengistu seized power in 1974 after the overthrow of Emperor Haile
Selassie. Under Mengistu tens of thousands of Ethiopians were butchered,
tortured or detained during the infamous "Red Terror" purges of the late
1970s. The former dictator fled to Zimbabwe in 1991, where he remains,
after his 17-year Marxist regime was toppled by forces led by current
Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.
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