ROW OVER DEATH PENALTY – ARE WE GOING OVERBOARD ?

By August 19, 2015 No Comments
Final march/manifestation finale, Genève 2010

 

“Life is a difficult game. You can win it only by retaining your birth right to be a person” Dr. A.P.J Abdul Kalam.

The most eminently esteemed man exit the land on his wings of fire, taking off the hearts of billions. He left behind a fire in human minds. The man who developed our dreams than any other President did. Life is a difficult game, of course it is. Who are the players and who are the monitors? Are we in a dilemma to answer this? Yes, we are. Does the authority cater to lift off a life as a monitor in the life game? Countless opinions and queries unanswered and sprouted out a new arena of thoughtful scrutiny to the term “death penalty” under the roof of human rights.

The term capital punishment is derived from the Latin term capititalis which means regarding the head. It means putting an end to life for those who did heinous crimes. The concept existed years back in forms of hanging, electrocution, lethal injection, beheading, shooting in the back of the head etc. It has been acted as a deterrent to crimes like murder, rape, religious dissidents, terrorism etc. but is it really a deterrent or opposite???

Out of 196 countries in the world (including Taiwan which is still not accepted as an independent one by many countries like US), 37 countries legally validated it, whereas 103 countries have abrogated de jure and 50 de facto. And the rest 6 have abolished it for ordinary crimes but handling it for exceptional circumstances. UK is a country which prohibited it Under Article 2 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union,while US actively participate on it.

Besides, with a view to eventual abolition, The United Nations General Assembly also called for a global moratorium. Factually more than 70% of the countries have stopped exercising the power, but eventually more than 60% of the population lives in nations where execution exercises viz China, India, United States and Indonesia. Furthermore, all of these above mentioned nations have been regularly voting against the UN General Assembly resolutions. Also Amnesty international, the world human rights organization- the UN wing, has unconditionally resisted the penalty irrespective off the nature, the person, the method and the guilt or innocence of the crime.

To mark the saying ‘experience is the best teacher’, will throw an extensive eye on the field of crime rate and deterrent effect of punishment throughout the world. Comparing the crime rates and death penalty, according to the recent statistics of the global study on homicide 2013 of the UN office on drugs and crime (www.unodc.org), the murder rate is as follows.

Region Rate Count
Americas 16.3 157,000
Africa 12.5 135,000
Europe 3.0 22,000
Oceania 3.0 1,100
Asia 2.9 122,000

 

The study portrays the fact that South Africa and Europe who have prohibited death penalty have not been stood away from crimes. They are always present in the top list. Additionally most of the American states have not practicing the penalty for many years; still they also hold their place on the top list. Whereas China and India, (the populous Asian countries) have comparatively show lesser crime rate.

Thereby, indebting the words of H. Naci Mocan an economist at Louisiana State University and an author of ‘A Study Finding That Each Execution Saves Five Lives’, “I personally am opposed to the death penalty, But my research shows that there is a deterrent effect.” As a comparative study of the above rate I personally observe that there is no negative direct relationship between crimes and death penalty though it indirectly arrows a deterrent effect. Criminality exists in every human being. The ethical and moral value of a person controls himself from being a criminal.

Discussing the strata in India:- the country is now amidst the roaring against death penalty under the human rights perception. The nation being democratic and the platform for diversified languages and culture; it brings hardship to tie the crowd under the boundary. The history notes that the independent India marked its first death sentence in the year 1949 by hanging Naturam Godse and Narayan Apte, the assassinators of Mahatma Gandhi persuades till Yakoob Memon in 2015.

India upheld the concept of death penalty, however, The Constitution Bench judgment of Supreme Court of India in Bachan Singh vs State of Punjab (1980) (2 SCC 684) apparently prescribed that Capital punishment in India should be exercised only on the rarest of rare cases.

Correlating the notion of death penalty around the globe and in India with respect to the UN moratorium and approach of Amnesty International, I reach the conclusion that death penalty or execution is a valid remedy so far as independent democratic India is concerned. The relative study of the world death penalty assumes that the least populous countries stay away from the act or the most populous countries like China, Korea, US and India voted against the moratorium appealed by the UN. The reason is nothing, but to manage too many people in a boundary sometimes it necessitates to uphold such decisions until the democratic state reaches a situation where the people are educated morally and principally to aware of the human rights and values. To quote news from gulf news recently, UAE is the first country where ladies are safe and the first country in women empowering. Without forgetting the fact that it’s an Asian country with death penalty practicing actively. For those who speaks against death penalty should know that more than 50% of south African population is now demanding for death penalty which is completely abolished in the country by law. We must not be in a situation in future to further resume the law. Before deciding, ‘think big’. Let us hope for a great tomorrow where Indians learn the fact that “the right to swing my fist ends where the other man’s nose begins” then freezes the concept of death penalty.

Adv. Kanmani K.S.

Inputs from surveys, statistics, websites, and newsletters of United Nation Bodies

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