[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----worldwide

Rick Halperin rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Sat Sep 6 00:03:23 CDT 2008

Sept. 5


Teacher gets death sentence for rape, murder

In New Delhi, The Supreme Court has awarded death sentence to a school
teacher who raped and strangled a 9-year-old girl to death in Pune hills 6
years ago.

"The contagion of lawlessness would undermine social order and lay it in
ruins. Protection of society and stamping out criminal proclivity must be
the object of law which must be achieved by imposing appropriate
sentence," said a Bench comprising Arijit Pasayat and Mukundakam Sharma,
upholding the sentence awarded to him by the High Court.

The apex court rejected the convict's plea for leniency and said, "Any
liberal attitude by imposing meagre sentences or taking too sympathetic
view merely on account of lapse of time in respect of such offences will
be result-wise counter productive in the long run and against societal
interest which needs to be cared for and strengthened by string of
deterrence inbuilt in the sentencing system."

(source: Sify News)


Child's murder revives capital punishment debate in Latvia

The murder of a young girl has sparked a debate over the re-introduction
of the death penalty in Latvia. Eleven-year old Daina was found with her
throat cut in bed in the town of Bauska.

Her father, Ivars Grantins, confessed to the killing after emerging from
hiding 3 days after the August 27 attack.

"I think people like that have no place in society," Justice Minister
Gaidis Berzins told Latvian national radio this week.

"This view might be unpopular, but situations like this require renewed
debate on the suitability of not having capital punishment," he said.

Investigators said they plan to ask for psychiatric tests on Grantins, who
has a record of sex crimes and violent assault.

Latvia abolished the death penalty in 1996 in order to meet a requirement
for joining the European Union in 2004.

"We have to remember that we have these obligations, but at the same time
we know there are crimes for which the penalty is still death in the US
and many other democratic countries," Janis Smits, chairman of
parliament's human rights committee, was quoted as saying Friday by the
newspaper Diena.

In an interview with Latvian television on Thursday evening, Interior
Minister Mareks Seglins said he supported a re-introduction of the death

"If we are in the European Union, we have to adhere to its standards, but
I'd like to remind you that I was against the abolition of the death
penalty," he said, adding his blief that there are people who never change
their behaviour.

(source: The Earth Times)


Death sentence, is it our right?

Setting out the pros and cons about the death penalty always creates hot
debate. Many countries including Indonesia, as well as several U.S.
states, still have capital punishment, while the practice has been
abolished in Europe and Australia.

Opponents of capital punishment argue there are many who still do not
realize or recognize the death penalty violates the right to life as an
inherent right of all human beings.

The death penalty is a form of cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment. It
is nothing more than legalized murder done by the state in the name of
justice. If we think murder is extremely cruel -- so much so the
perpetrators must receive a death sentence -- then how can we say
preparing an execution team of 20 shooters to take someone's life is not

One of the favorite arguments put forth by retentionists -- those who
support the death penalty -- to justify capital punishment is it is one of
the most effective deterrents for would-be criminals. They argue the death
penalty is needed to prevent other members of society from committing

Statistics from many countries, however, demonstrate the death penalty has
little effect on decreasing crime. It is not the severity of the
punishment which will deter crime and convey justice for the victim but
the certainty perpetrators are convicted after a just, transparent trial,
a legal process which determines guilt based on evidence.

"But the death penalty meets society's need for justice." Retentionists
often use this argument as well. Anyone who has committed a serious crime
deserves to die. Eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth, a life for a life. Is
that the kind of justice we stand for here?

If so, then why not torture a torturer? At this point, we strongly condemn
the practice of torture or, at least, prohibition of torture is clearly
codified in the UN Convention against Torture. Letting that argument play
out, why doesn't our legal system allow the state to rape a rapist?

It is simply because, deep down inside our conscience, we all know justice
is not about taking that which the perpetrator has taken from us. For a
long time, we have been sickened by cruel crimes and have asked the
government to impede such cruelty by applying the death penalty. Yet we
never put 2 and 2 together to see capital punishment does nothing more
than continue the chain of atrocity.

Retentionists often link the notion of death penalty with a victim's need
for justice. But who are they to talk about what any victim considers
justice to be?

Victims often forgive perpetrators and even unequivocally declare they do
not want the perpetrators to be executed. If we really want to punish
perpetrators for the victims' sake, it is akin to punishing people based
on emotional considerations. If punishments are linked to victims'
feelings, then sanctions become subjective and risk becoming arbitrary.

Let's not forget the criminal justice system is vulnerable to error, an
essential consideration in this debate. Fallibility is something we, as
human beings, cannot avoid since it is in our nature. We cannot prevent
all false convictions even with the system of judicial appeal.

Even an impartial and transparent legal process cannot always prevent this
sort of human error. It is thus imprudent to allow this vulnerable system
to decide if someone "deserves" to die or not.

As has already been proved in many cases, a court may execute someone who
is falsely convicted. There are cases in which the executed were found
innocent after the real perpetrators confessed and, unfortunately, after
the executed had already lost their life. When this happens, consider who
is responsible. If we are speaking of justice, what kind of justice can
the victim, the executed one, and his or her family experience? We cannot
bring the wrongly convicted back to life. Are retentionists willing to be

One final argument which Indonesian retentionists use to defend their
position on the death penalty is a decision by Indonesia's Constitutional
Court. In that decision, the right to life guaranteed in Article 28I,
paragraph 1, of the Constitution is also subject to "limitation" as
mentioned in the subsequent Article 28J, paragraph 2. The Constitutional
Court confirmed the death penalty is not a violation of the right to life,
only a limitation of that right.

That decision hinges on how we interpret what rights can be impaired, and
which cannot. Is it true the right to life, explicitly mentioned in the
Constitution as a right which cannot be derogated, is also subject to
"limitation" as the Constitutional Court ruled?

Life is grace. It is a grace which is given by God. If He is the one who
gave us life, then He must be the one with the right to take it. Who are
we, as humans, to think we have the right to arrange somebody's moment of
death? Who are we to judge whether someone is evil enough and hence
deserves to die?

Are we playing God?

(source: Ricky Gunawan is international relations manager at the Community
Legal Aid Institute. Answer C. Styannes is a research associate at the
Community Legal Aid Institute; Opinion, Jakarta Post)

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