[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----worldwide
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Sun Nov 30 12:44:44 CST 2008
A debate left ... hanging
The recent capital punishment debate inside and outside the Jamaican
Parliament again demonstrates the intellectual shallowness and
philosophical naivety which pervade our discourse. Most important of all,
it was onerously irrelevant to the issue of crime-fighting.
In a society with such an alarmingly low level of clear-up rate of murders
and where it is so easy to murder without getting caught, it is a waste of
time to be seriously debating whether hanging is a deterrent. Hanging
might be a deterrent in a country where criminals generally get caught,
but here in Jamaica where police incompetence, under-funding of the
security and justice systems and reprisals against "informers" are part of
the status quo, it is foolish to see the resumption of hanging as a means
of fighting the galloping crime rate.
utterly irrelevant issue
Yet, most of the pro-hanging advocates based their passionate advocacy on
the need to stem our high crime rate. Hello, murderers know that our
chance of catching them is next to zero and that witnesses can be easily
"dusted' if they (the murderers), by some strange coincidence, do get
caught. So in the Jamaican context capital punishment is an utterly
irrelevant issue - if it is couched as primarily an issue of deterrence to
As I have read and listened to proponents on both sides, I have again been
struck by how poorly, people generally argue their positions and how the
lack of philosophical grounding seriously hampers meaningful dialogue.
The debate in Parliament was particularly pathetic. Some properly tutored
high-school students could have done much better. It was refreshing,
however, to see the parliamentarians indulge that rarity of independent,
non-partisan thought and to see them cheering one another from across the
divide. We should have more conscience debates in Parliament!
The Bible-thumping zealots and the angry, fire-in-the-eyes pro-capital
punishment advocates on the one hand and the human rights, progressive
thinkers on the other hand dished out their usual serving of light stuff.
There were many weak arguments and unexamined assumptions on both sides.
But while both sides exhibited weakness in analysis, the anti-death
penalty lobby exhibited far more weaknesses, though it presents itself as
buttressed by reason, while the other side is charged with emotion - the
need for vengeance, revenge, etc.
One, it is not true, as asserted uncontroversially, that "there is no
evidence that the death penalty is a deterrent". The most one can say is
that the data are open to conflicting interpretations, but the anti-death
penalty lobby must never get away with the air of sophistication and
science in asserting, without contradiction, that the evidence shows that
the death penalty is no deterrent, as Peter Phillips was arguing. (Perhaps
he really needs his think tank to help him with some research.)
The 2003 study, 'Does Capital Punishment Have a Deterrent Effect? New
Evidence from Postmoratorium Panel', showed that on average, each
execution prevents some 18 murders. It was from this study that Cass
Sunstein and Adrian Vermeule developed their argument that states have a
moral obligation to carry out capital punishment to save lives, taking
what is called in philosophy a consequentialist view of ethics.
They develop their argument in the 2005 paper put out by the University of
Chicago Law School titled, 'Is Capital Punishment Morally Required? 'The
Relevance of Life-Life Trade-offs'.
"The foundation for our argument is a large and growing body of evidence
that capital punishment may well have a deterrent effect, possibly a quite
powerful one. If the current research is even roughly correct, then a
refusal to impose capital punishment will effectively condemn numerous
innocent people to death", say the authors.
Another study by H. Naci Mocan and R. Kaj Gittings, 'Getting Off Death
Row: Commuted Sentences and the Deterrent Effect of Capital Punishment',
uses state-level data from America between 1977 and 1997 to show that each
execution deters 5 murders on average. They also see the murder rate
increasing when people are removed from death row or have their sentences
Between 1972 and 1976, the US Supreme Court effectively had a moratorium
on capital punishment.
An important study which uses that period to make comparisons is 'Murders
of Passion: Execution Delays and the Deterrence of Capital Punishment'.
Johanna Shepherd used state-level data from 1960-2000 and looks at the
murder rate before and after the death penalty was suspended and
reinstated. The author finds a substantial deterrent effect. After
suspending the death penalty 91 per cent of states found an increase in
In another important study, she did, titled, 'Deterrence Versus
Brutalisation: Capital Punishment's differing Impacts', she found that
unless executions reach a certain level, it won't have a deterrent effect,
as murderers conclude that they are not likely to be executed - even if
capital punishment is on the books.
Of course, some say you can use statistics and data to prove anything. But
the point is we must not allow the anti-death penalty advocates to get
away with leaving the impression that studies unambiguously show that
capital punishment is no deterrent. (Referring to low homicide rates in
Europe is another issue)
Sunstein and Vermeule make this important point in their paper: "Capital
punishment critics often seem to assume that evidence on deterrent effects
should be ignored if reasonable questions can be raised about it.
But as a general rule this is implausible. In most contexts the question
of reasonable questions is hardly an adequate reason to ignore evidence of
severe harm. A degree of reasonable doubt doesn't seem to doom capital
punishment if the evidence suggests that significant deterrence occurs."
But there is another important point which the anti-death penalty
advocates overlook. It is not just a matter of whether capital punishment
deters, but whether justice demands it. In other words, there is a
philosophical and moral issue here. Capital punishment could well be a
matter of justice and if that is so the issue of deterrence is subsidiary,
if not irrelevant. Unfortunately, the belligerent advocates of capital
punishment in Jamaica have little interest in this issue also. They think
capital punishment is a deterrent or at least is a means of satisfying the
urge for revenge. But not all advocates of capital punishment are
motivated by revenge and emotion, as intellectuals among the anti-death
penalty lobby regularly charge. Some have advanced serious philosophical
arguments, drawing on Kant's ethical views, among others.
The view that capital punishment is barbaric and does not show respect for
life is one that is not as analytically tight as it might first seem. It
appears sophisticated and enlightened to make that assertion - especially
when supported by the fact that Europe and most of the world have
abolished capital punishment except some totalitarian states.
The view that the state's taking a life is an affront to the sanctity of
life necessarily, if consistent, should lead one to say that there can be
no just war for in wars people are killed - whether in wars of liberation,
as were fought in Africa or wars to end slavery. Yet progressives who
vociferously oppose capital punishment on the ground that any taking of
life is inviolate would have no problem in killing oppressors to free the
oppressed or in killing people who attack their country without
Why couldn't it be plausible that a society holds life to be of such
inestimable value that any of its members who violates that sacred rule of
life must be made an example of by being himself deprived of life? Why
couldn't that be a powerful statement affirming life, rather than
demeaning it? Just as we punish others who break the social contract and
steal and rape, etc, and we deprive them of freedom - an inalienable
natural right - why can't people deprived of life itself without the state
being deemed barbaric?
A lot of the arguments of the liberals on this matter are fraught with
unexamined philosophical assumptions, passed off as enlightened views. And
because usually the people opposing those views are visceral and
fundamentalist there is no engagement at the intellectual level, with the
result that the liberal seems to win the debate hands down. When the truth
is he has not really been debated.
As one thoughtful pro-capital punishment advocate, Andrew Tallman, puts
it: "Rather than proclaiming the precariousness of life, allowing a known
murderer to live is a declaration that life is not precious enough to
justify the forfeit of another life as punishment."
An excellent paper which unpacks some common arguments against the death
penalty is George Washington University Professor Dawinder Sidcup's 'Death
As Punishment: An Analysis of Eight Arguments Against Capital Punishment'.
This issue of the death penalty is no minor issue philosophically or
morally. As Sidcup says in reference to the United States, "If the death
penalty is being employed by the State and this practice is unjust, the
death of thousands of criminals in this country would serve as a permanent
disgrace to the integrity of this nation and would represent an extensive
degradation of the virtue of justice."
The capital punishment debate is important, but not as a deterrent to
crime in the Jamaican context. Another line being used to defend capital
punishment - and one employed by former prime minister, Edward Seaga, is
that capital punishment is needed because of the viciousness and barbarity
of certain murders. But that should not be the basis on which the
justification of capital punishment is advanced, for however humanely a
person commits his murder it is the taking of life itself that is morally
repugnant, not the manner of taking it.
Talking about the abhorrence of the murder plays into the view that you
are really after vengeance rather than justice. So if this is a reason for
Seaga's supporting capital punishment, though he is generally opposed to
it, he has no good philosophical reason at all.
We have missed an excellent opportunity to have a serious and sober debate
on capital punishment. Emotional arguments and philosophical naivety on
both sides get the better of us.
Meanwhile, for all practical purposes what happened on Tuesday was a
sideshow. But at least the politicians got a chance to exercise their
conscience - at last!
(source: Column, Ian Boyne, Jamaica Gleaner)
Handle death penalty with care
The Editor, Sir:
IN ANTONN Brown's letter published on November 19, "It is wrong to kill
people who kill people to show that killing is wrong" he stated that
frustration may be a natural response to the violence and disorder in
contemporary Jamaica. Nevertheless, the debate on resuming capital
punishment is a result of Government's inability to deal competently with
crime and violence, rather than the idea that capital punishment is a
reasonable way to solve violent crime.
addressing violent crime
I strongly agree that capital punishment is not a justified and effective
means of addressing violent crime, although I have the same opinion that
killing a person, who has killed another, will not be the answer for crime
in Jamaica. However, I also think that letting a murderer who has taken
the life of an innocent person live free is definitely not what Jamaica
While I agree with Mr Brown when he said capital punishment is more based
on revenge than retribution and that it is barbaric, I don't believe that
capital punishment should be rejected as an unacceptable means of
obtaining justice. However, the matter needs to be handled with care
because of police corruption and incompetence, which may lead to innocent
persons being sentenced to death.
I am, etc.,
ROXANNA CHANG----Mandeville, Manchester
(source: Letter to the Editor, Jamaica Gleaner)
Welsh grandad of murdered teen says killer should face death penalty
THE heartbroken grandad of murdered Hannah Foster has called for the death
penalty to be brought back for her killer.
Evil Maninder Pal Singh Kohli, 41, was finally brought to justice this
week when he was convicted of the murder, rape and kidnap of the
17-year-old A-level student.
Now in a searingly honest interview, Hannahs Welsh grandad Frank Nicholas
has said Kohlis 24-year sentence isnt long enough and believes he should
Speaking exclusively to Wales on Sunday from his home in the small village
of Cwmann, near Lampeter, the 81-year-old said: I think this is one case
where they should have brought back the death sentence.
He has caused my whole family such pain. I dont understand how a man can
live with himself after doing these things.
I am disappointed he should have been put away for longer. Hannahs
parents are disappointed too. I think he should be in prison until he dies
Hilary and Trevor are glad its all over, but at the same time they dont
think the sentence was large enough for him.
Kohli, an Indian-born sandwich delivery man, did all he could to escape
justice after savagely attacking Hannah in Southampton back in 2003.
He spent 17 months on the run after fleeing to India, where he changed his
name, married bigamously and adopted the role of a caring charity worker
as he tried to distance himself from his crimes.
He was eventually snared as he tried to cross the border into Nepal. The
beast even confessed to his crimes live on Indian TV, sensationally
admitting: "I abducted, raped and killed Hannah Foster. I want to unburden
myself and tell the truth about what happened."
But the evidence couldnt be used in court after the judge ruled it was
prejudicial and Frank says he was gutted that his daughter Hilary, 52,
and her husband Trevor had to sit through 6 weeks of grisly evidence at
Winchester Crown Court before the rapist was locked up.
It was particularly tough for Hannah's little sister Sarah, 20, who was
only 14 at the time and wasnt told all the details of what happened, at
the request of her mother.
Frank said: "The fact that the taped evidence of him confessing to what he
did in India couldnt be included in the trial was hugely frustrating. He
was such a born liar.
"The last 5 years have built up into a crescendo, and the court case has
brought everything back to the surface.
"We all got into such a state over it we were all just wishing that it
would be over."
More than 100 hearings were carried out in India before Kohli became the
1st person to be extradited from the subcontinent to Britain.
Frank said: "His behaviour in India was completely farcical. He didn't
turn up to court and hearings were put off, because he claimed that he
didnt have appropriate clothes.
"He ran rings around the court out there.
Frank says he misses the trips that Hannah, who he nicknamed Buttercup,
regularly made to his home in west Wales.
"I was very close to Hannah," he said. "She would often visit me in Wales
with the rest of the family. She was such a loving girl she couldn't do
enough for people. She was always trying to be helpful."
He last saw her when she spent Christmas at his home in 2002 with the rest
of the family.
Hannah and Sarah bought him videos of Morecambe and Wise and The Two
Ronnies his favourites. Or rather, they were. "I don't think I could
watch them again," he said.
"It would be impossible to enjoy them.
"Hannah was very studious. She wanted to become a doctor, and she worked
so hard to achieve her goals. Very few people know it, but just before she
was killed she won a silver medal from the Royal College of Surgery."
This week marks the end of a long and tiring journey for the Foster family
who have continuously fought for justice.
Prior to the trial, the family travelled to Delhi 3 times, offered a
70,000 reward to catch Hannahs killer and followed the police
The trauma and heartache brought on by the murder forced gas company
auditor Trevor, 58, to permanently retire, while Hilary was forced to
fight a brave battle against cancer while the hunt went on.
Frank said they would all be spending Christmas together and may even go
on holiday over the festive season to get away from what has happened.
But he admitted that, even now, if he was brought face to face with
Hannahs murderer he would have no hesitation about laying into him.
However he added: "I don't think he would be prepared to listen to me. I
don't think what I would want to say to him is printable to be honest."
And while the whole family try to move on, Frank says he will never be
able to forgive Kohli for taking his precious granddaughter away from him.
10 terrifying minutes
HANNAH Foster was abducted near her home in Portswood, Southampton, on
March 14, 2003 after celebrating success in her mock A-level exams.
The thoughtful 6th-former made sure her friend had got on a bus at
10.50pm, and was her usual happy self.
All that changed in 10 terrifying minutes. At 11pm she made a 999 call
from her mobile phone. But she was unable to speak and although screams
were heard in the area, police did not know who made the call or where it
came from. That phone call was her last known act. She never arrived home
and her frantic parents reported her missing, before her strangled body
was discovered in roadside undergrowth just 4 miles away from the family's
detached house by a walker.
Her khaki-coloured satchel, still containing her polka-dot pattern phone,
was tossed into a bottle bank 15 miles away in Portsmouth. During the
trial evil Kohli concocted a bizarre defence, claiming he was kidnapped
and forced to have sex with Hannah. But the courtroom had been moved to
tears as Hannahs mum Hilary's witness statement was read out.
In it, the 52-year-old said: "She died terrified and alone with an evil
stranger. I feel as though Kohli has ripped out my heart and stamped on
"Hannah was a gentle, peace-loving girl. She would have been frozen with
fear, unable to run or fight the proverbial lamb to the slaughter.
The pain never leaves me. I'm haunted by recurring nightmares. Medication
for post-traumatic stress disorder allows me to sleep for a short time
before the images overwhelm me again.
"Trevor and I have both been unable to return to work.
"After Hannah's murder we were both consumed with the need to bring her
killer to justice."
(source: Wales On Sunday)
Church serial blasts: 11 get death
A local court on Saturday awarded capital punishment to 11 people and life
sentence to 12 others in connection with the 2000 serial blasts in
churches across Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Goa.
Special sessions court judge S M Shivanagoudar, who had convicted 23
people last Friday, pronounced the judgment. All the convicts belonged to
the Deendar Channbasaveshwara Anjuman sect. While kingpin Zia-ul-Hassan
and his 4 children are in Pakistan, 4 others acquitted. 3 of the accused
died while trying to escape after planting a bomb at a Bangalore church.
Special public prosecutor H N Nilogal had pleaded for capital punishment
for all the 23 convicted. The group had triggered 6 blasts in Andhra
Pradesh, 1 each in Maharashtra and Goa and 4 in Karnataka.
The CoD (Corps of Detectives) team, comprising DSPs - V S D'Souza, M B
Appanna, G R Hiremath and Manthesh - investigated the 3 blasts in
Karnataka churches at Wadi, Hubli, Bangalore and the 4th blast in which
the culprits were killed in a van and filed a chargesheet before the
The accused were made to believe that blasts at churches in India would
trigger a civil war between Hindus and Christians. A religious leader from
Afghanistan would invade and conquer India, which would be converted into
an Islamic country.
The serial blasts were carried out by activists of Deendar
Channabasaveshwara Anjuman, founded in the 1920s. The conspiracy was
hatched in October 1999 in Hyderabad, during the death anniversary of its
founder Hajrath Moulana Siddiqui. Siddiqui's son, Zia-ul-Hasan and his 4
sons, who migrated to Pakistan, had visited Hyderabad during Siddiqi's
On June 8, 2000 2 bombs had exploded at St Anne's Church, Wadi in Gulbarga
district of Karnataka. The CoD filed chargesheet against 19 accused. Since
4 of them were absconding, 15 accused faced trial. On July 8, 2000, bombs
exploded at St John's Luthern Church, Hubli. The CoD filed a chargesheet
against 19 accused, of which 16 faced trial.
Next day, bombs exploded at St Peter Paul Church, JJ Nagar, Bangalore,
where the cops filed a chargesheet against 29 accused, of which 17 faced
trial. Within minutes, a van carrying people who planted the bombs also
went off accidentally on Magadi Road, where 2 of the accused -- Zakir and
Siddiqi -- were killed and another accused S M Ibrahim was injured.
Those who were awarded capital punishmen are: Mohmad Ibrahim (40),
Bangalore; Shaikh Hasham Ali (30), Hyderabad; Hasnuzama (55), Nuzvid, AP;
Abdul Rehman Saith (50), Chikkaballapur; Amanath Hussain Mulla (58),
Bangalore; Mohammed Sharfuddin (37), Hyderabad; Sayed Muneeruddin Mulla
(40) -- Hubli; Mohd Akhil Ahmed (29), Hyderabad; Ijahar Baigh (32),
Hyderabad; Sayed Abbas Ali (28), Hyderabad; Mohmad Khalid Choudhary (32),
Origin of the sect
At the end of the 19th century, Hajarath Moulana Siddiqui, a scholar tried
to integrate all religions - Hinduism, Islam and studied all the holy
scripts - including Ramayana, Mahabharata, Koran, Vachana Sahithya and
Puranas. At one stage, he even argued that Islam was the base for all the
religions and later called himself as reincarnation of Channabasaveshwara.
He wrote many books in Urdu and Kannada and translated some of the holy
scripts. This landed him in trouble. He went on to establish Deendar
Channabasaveshwara Anjuman in the 1920s and set up an ashram at Hyderabad,
where he lived till his death in 1952.
Though Anjuman Ashram preached co-existence of 2 religions, Siddiqui's
eldest son Zia-ul-Hasan migrated to Mardan, Pakistan. He and his 4
children would visit Hyderabad during October for the birth anniversary of
In 1990s, the ashram lost its relevance. Zia-ul-Hasan and his children
hobnobbed with extremists in Kashmir and the members of Jamat Hizbullah
Mujahiddin in Pakistan. Whenever they visited the Ashram, they would hatch
conspiracies to carry out serial blasts in India.
(source: The Times of India)
Death penalty for e11 in Karnataka church blast case
Bangalore, Nov 29: In a landmark verdict, a special court on Saturday
awarded death sentence to 11 persons, life imprisonment to 12 and
acquitted four others of a banned outfit in the sensational serial church
blasts in 2000.
34th Additional City Civil and Session Judge S M Shivanagoudar (ed
correct), announced the quantum of sentence on the activists of the
Deendar Channabasaveshwara Anjuman, who were convicted on November 11.
The judge had deferred the announcement of the quantum of of sentence to
The serial explosions that rocked churches in J J Nagar, Magadi Road,
Keshwapur in Hubli and Wadi in Gulbarga district, had created panic among
Some of the accused were nabbed while escaping in a car after carrying out
a blast in J J Nagar church. Their arrest unravelled the conspiracy and
led to the arrest of others by Corps of Detectives, which probed the case.
They were also accused of involvement in similar blast cases in Andhra
Pradesh and Goa.
(source: Zee News)
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