To start with and making things perfectly clear, states have every right in maintaining their security and that of their citizens. They also have every right in passing whichever legislations to maintain such security including a deterrent penal system.
However, this ought to be done within a framework of protecting people’s dignity and rights and this includes banning torture and abolishing death penalties, which absolutely deserves wide scale discussions in view of its significance.
China, US and Saudi Arabia, countries with diverse intellectual, religious, political and economic tendencies that have nothing in common, top the world in terms of the number of death penalties executed in them.
Various bodies and organizations recently condemned Saudi Arabia’s execution of 47 people including some that reject the execution in principle and others who rejected to executing certain individuals, like Iran, whose criticism sounded louder in this regard, though according to Amnesty International reports, both countries do not have very bright records in this regard.
Amnesty reports showed that Iran executed 743 people in 2014 including 14 women and 13 juveniles. It also executed 694 others during the first six months of 2015. Therefore, its objection is purely political. Before the recent executions, Saudi Arabia had remarkable increases in death penalties that brought the kingdom much criticism from the international community.
There is also a lot of criticism for death penalties in China and the US because of many mistakes and tens of millions worth of compensations the governments have accordingly paid. They have also executed juveniles and mentally disabled people. So, if this is happening in US where transparency, laws, defendants’ rights and avoiding political measures in any death penalty are highly valued and respected, I do not believe the same applies in regional countries that lack transparency and highly value political considerations.
We are, of course, talking about death penalty sentences passed by courts of law, while ‘non-judicial death penalties’ are vastly practiced in regional countries including Israel, though in dissimilar levels. There is this illusion that death penalties lead to security and this illusion turns into an integral part of public speech during times of political tension when people find it easier to kill their opponents through passing some laws.
We still remember how three years ago and when a parliament assumed to be reformist and dominated by a majority and a new Cabinet were in office, a bill was passed allowing the state to execute people merely for posting a tweet, not for being terrorists, burglars, armed robbers or rapists….just for a tweet. So, imagine if such a bill was put into practice and the government allowed using it. However, thanks to Almighty Allah, HH the Amir rejected such a constitutionally defective law.
Abolishing the death penalty is becoming a must in all countries and if this is not feasible, at least reduce the crimes legally accountable for by capital punishment and be very strict in using it!
By Dr. Ghanim Al-Najjar
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