Human Rights - Capital Punishment
The Humans Rights Issue I have chosen to discuss today
is Capital Punishment.
Quite simply, capital punishment is the death penalty given
by the government of a country, via their legal system, to
people who have committed the most evil of crimes.
Many countries have abolished the death penalty from their
laws, but there are many that remain which still practice the
act of killing a person as punishment for their crimes.
The death penalty remains prevalent as a legal sentence in
the USA (but it has been outlawed in many US States), and
many Asian and Middle Eastern countries. Thirty eight of the
US States still have the death ...view middle of the document...
Capital punishment has now formally been abolished from Australian
law, but it was still in place less than fifty years ago, with the last
Australian executed being Ronald Ryan in Victoria in 1967. Ryan
had murdered a prison guard in a jail break attempt.
Interestingly it wasn’t until as recently as 2010 when federal
legislation was introduced to prohibit capital punishment in all
Australian states and territories.
There remains, in civilized and basically Christian countries
(USA in particular) ongoing challenges to the death penalty.
Grounds for those challenges have mainly been:
That the Death Penalty was a violation of the Constitution
which prohibits cruel and unusual punishment
On procedural grounds, that there were not enough protections
for defendants accused of these crimes.
A view was held that since the sentence was so severe, the law
must impose undoubted standards of proof to sentence someone
Many U.S. states continue to go through periods where the death
penalty was legal, then illegal, then revised and held as legal, then
These reviews on a US state by state laws have lead to confusion,
unbalanced and unjust sentencing, giving more grounds for appeal
due to the law makers obviously being unconvinced and uncommitted.
In researching this topic in relation to Human Rights, the legal system
is not aided by many conflicts which are current and obvious.
Some governments do, some governments don’t
In USA some states do, some states don’t
It is hard to reconcile that in one state you can be sentenced to death, but had you committed the same crime “just across
the borders” you would get life in prison
From Australia's early days to the present, our Aboriginal brothers
have, as part of Aboriginal laws, a system of Pay Back.You do wrong
by one of my family, we do wrong back to you - Pay back
(Square the Ledger). The conflicts of Aboriginal traditional law versus
the Parliamentary laws of Australia is a topic for another day.
We have one of the 10 Commandments in the book of Exodus
being “Thou Shalt Not Kill”. Exodus remains controversial, as it
also says “Thou shalt give an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth,
a hand for a hand, a wound for a wound etc”
Leviticus 24.17 says “And he that killeth any man shall surely be
put to death.”
The Catholic Church view of the death penalty is (it was reinforced
when everyone around the world wanted Saddam Hussein murdered on his capture)!
“The death penalty is an offense against the dignity and sanctity
of all human life which must be respected, even if those who have
done great evil. Nothing is gained through capital punishments.
Indeed, use of the death penalty undermines respect for life and