Publié par : Spy Jones | août 1, 2008

Présentation sur la peine de mort

Bloguer à partir d’un cybercafé s’étant révélé un calvaire pour moi, le manque d’aspiration me brûlant à petit feu, je me dois, pour garder un semblant d’activité régulière, de poster ce talk que j’avais préparé en Mars dernier pour les besoins de l’American Language Center. Enfin, j’espère que vous me pardonnerez, chers lecteurs, ce billet bâclé, qui n’a d’autre mérite que de servir hypothètiquement à quelque lycéen en quête d’une recherche prête à utiliser sur la peine de mort :

  1. Introduction :

From the wide variety of judicial issues, capital punishment, also known as death penalty, is probably the thorniest one. And it’s certainly due to the fact that it is deep-rooted in History, and has so much involvements in politics, philosophy, religion and other sensitive domains. Thus, it usually triggers passionate controversies, which bring into conflict those who want to abolish it and those who want to retain it. Each camp has its own arguments, references, justifications, which depend on many factors like political direction, moral system, etc…. Even personal feelings are involved, so the debate never finishes by the victory of a camp. Definitely, capital punishment is one of the major social issues of the modern world.

At the beginning, I’ll try to analyse the history and the evolution of this particular punishment, until the present situation of death penalty, which is varying from country to country. Then, I’ll quote and explain arguments for and against it, from the most popular ones to the most intellectual ones. Finally, I’ll conclude with my personal opinion.

 

  1. History :

Oldest historical documents prove that capital punishment seems to have appeared since organized justice appeared. It was then provided for murders, sexual crimes as rapes, adultery, and homosexuality, and even apostasy, in case of a religious sentence. Almost all judicial systems prescribed it at that period, including Babylonian, Jewish, Athenian, Catholic, Chinese and Islamic ones. Abolishing it was actually inconceivable, though it happened once in China, and was practically the state of this penalty during the beginnings of Islam. Despite its wide use, calls for reform were not unknown. For example, the 12th century Arab Ansalusian Jewish scholar, Ibn Maimon, wrote, « It is better and more satisfactory to acquit a thousand guilty persons than to put a single innocent man to death. » However, especially in the Middle Age, executions were public spectacles involving cruel methods. In addition, capital punishment was not reserved solely for the most serious crimes. Death was the penalty for a variety of less serious offenses. Finally, from the 18th century, within the renewal of judicial systems in Europe, an Italian lawyer, Cesare Beccaria, was the first modern thinker who defended the thesis of the total abolition of the death penalty, in his Treaty of offenses and penalties, published in 1764. In the nineteenth century, the movement towards abolition led to positive results in some states, but the death penalty was restored quickly in the few countries that have abolished it.

 

  1. Capital punishment worldwide

 

By the early 21st century, for the first time in history, most of the world’s nations had abolished the death penalty in law or in practice. As of 2007, 133 countries had abolished the death penalty in law or practice, and only 64 countries retained the death penalty and continued to execute. In 2006, 91% of all known executions took place in six countries listed below: China (at least 1,010). Iran (177). Pakistan (82). Iraq (at least 65). Sudan (at least 65). United States (53)

  • Methods of execution

Methods of execution used to carry out capital punishment have varied over time, and include: shooting by a firing squad, a single shooter or a cannon, hanging, burning at the stake and crucifixion (especially for heretics), stoning to death (as for adultery), decapitation or beheading, dismemberment, electrocution or electric chair, lethal injection, poisoning, impalement, garrotte, burial, immurement, sawing, stabbing.

  • Capital punishment in Morocco

As in almost all Arabic and Islamic country (excepting Senegal and Djibouti), capital punishment is applied in Morocco in cases of murders with premeditation and terrorism among 11 crimes liable to. However, although it is still being used (like in trials of terrorists in 2003), it was no more implemented since September 1993, which is considered as “abolition in practice”. Since 1973, 133 people were sentenced to death, and only two of them were executed. Besides, the number of prisoners sentenced to the death penalty currently stands at 125 people.

 

  1. Capital punishment debate

 

  • Arguments for capital punishment

  • The argument of safety :

The death penalty is sometimes presented as the only effective and appropriate to prevent and combat crime, but the safety of a community depends fundamentally on the policy pursued by its leaders. The decline in state violence does not automatically increase insecurity in society. For example, after the abolition of the death penalty in France the number of bloody crimes did not rise, in Canada it has even decreased…

  • The argument of deterrence:

The argument most frequently mentioned to support death penalty is the deterrence one. Some people believe we should execute an accused to deter others from committing similar crimes. However, many studies in different countries have shown that there are no more crimes committed in abolitionist countries than in countries carrying out executions.

  • The argument of punishment

According to this argument, the punishment is based on the idea that some offenders have to be executed, not as part of a fight against crime, but because justice demands it. . Nevertheless, demanding death to make justice clashes with injustice and arbitrariness that surround the death penalty in practice. If the current penal codes do not allow burning down the house of the arsonist, to rape the rapist or torture the torturer, it’s not because they tolerate crimes committed. That’s because most societies understood that justice must be built on values different from those they condemn.

 

  • Arguments against capital punishment :

As noted, most arguments against capital punishment are based on exposing flaws in defenses of capital punishment. However, here are more direct attacks:

  • Moral arguments

  • Capital punishment should be abolished since it is inhumane and clashes with the humans’ right to live, no matters what they did.

  • Using the death to punish a murderer would be « demeaning to their level » and would not be compatible with human values.

  • We mustn’t confuse Justice (recognition of the harm suffered) with vengeance (the desire to cause damage). The first may be a first step toward healing the victim while the second encloses the victim in negative feelings.

  • Judicial arguments

  • The death penalty is often opposed on the grounds that, because every criminal justice system is fallible, innocent people will inevitably be executed by mistake, and the death penalty is both irreversible and more severe than lesser punishments.. As an example, in China, Teng Xingshan was executed for the murder of his wife in 1989. Furthermore, a study by Columbia University in the United States showed that nearly 7 death sentences on 10, made between 1973 and 1995, had to be revised by the judges as a result of serious violations of the law.

  • The death penalty is inconsistent with the principle of redemption. It waives the possibility that the criminal may change and get better, to regret his action and resume their life in society.

  • Another direct attack on capital punishment is that, at least at present, it is virtually impossible to apply death sentences fairly. The judgment may be impaired by peripheral elements, such as the appearance of the accused, the possible racism of the judge or jurors, the social position of the accused, the quality of his lawyer.

  • Assuming that crime is partly the consequence of injustices and frustrations caused by the society (the so-called mitigating circumstances), then, it may be seen as unfair that the same society executes criminals for errors which it at least shares a part of the responsibility.

  • Practical arguments

  • Some crimes are committed in a state of passion, where the murderer is unable to think, believing that the death of the victim is more important than his own death. The deterrent rational side of the law would be ineffective.

  • When a murderer commits a crime, they might think they can evade justice in the future. Indeed, there is always a percentage of unsolved crimes in each country.

  • That the State shows a disregard for human life to the point of killing his subjects for example, is counter-productive.

  • The non-democratic regimes can theoretically be used where appropriate capital punishment as a legal way to get rid of political opponents finally (even if in practice they use directly in summary executions without all the legal quibbling).

  1. Conclusion

 

Such are arguments for and against capital punishment. The conclusion is of course depending on everyone’s ideas, opinions, and backgrounds. But personally, I’m convinced that abolition of capital punishment is the fairest decision to take. Because I believe that all humans are equals, in rights and obligations, even those who commit crimes. Because I believe that all humans have the right to live, whatever they did. Even if they murder, rape, betray, commit any horrible crime, we don’t have the right to take off their life. We must protect society from them, alright, but not by killing them. The sole act of deliberately taking a life of another and bringing an immediate end to their physical existence is, in my opinion, completely wrong. From another side, how can we execute a convicted without ensuring he has really committed the crime? When establishing an order of law that deals with life and death, there should never be a chance for mistakes. But, actually, human justice isn’t at all perfect, and wrong judgments are frequently pronounced. Thus, the death penalty is the price of life that one who wrongs and sometimes one who does not wrong is forced to pay. Most significantly the death penalty has been a false method of deterrence. It has been statistically proven that it is not a deterrent and instead persists as a method of vengeance and retribution. The death sentence teaches the practice of killing one who has killed in order to show that killing is wrong. That’s one of the most irrational and illogical fallacies without even regarding the inhumane and unethical aspect of that statement.

 

Finally, I maintain again that capital punishment should be abolished in Morocco, in order to establish a human right’s culture and to eliminate similar unethical practices, if of course it is democratically voted by the Parliament. But, at least, I think that this debate should be more discussed than it is now, in order for us to think of whether abolishing death penalty or not.

NB : L’opinion exprimée ci-dessus est la mienne.


Responses

  1. Great post Spy Jones!
    Personally I’m against the death penalty because I believe it offers the perpetrator the easy way out. Taking away one’s personal freedom for life is a far greater punishment.

  2. This topic is ,nowadays, the most debated one,and it was approached in class if you remember, so, I’m delighted to comment this outstanding article . Thus,as far as I’m concerned, I ‘m against the death penalty and a fervent opponent of the capital punishment, because in all cases, to cause the criminal’s death won’t change anything and especially,it won’t resuscitate the dead.Nevertheless,we can refer to it, sometimes, if it may relieve the victim’s family if the crime is horrid, or if the society wanted to take it for an exemple and there are many other arguments.To summarize, I believe that the death penalty should be abolished for the good of everyone, but each one has his own idea and we must accept it.
    P.S: the choice of your talk is very successful.
    Well done!!!!!!!

  3. @Myrtus :
    First, welcome to my blog !🙂
    Well, I think your argument is the most efficient, from the view of victims. Because they can then accept the idea of abolishing death penalty.

    @Hind :
    I totally agree with all your arguments, and the last notice is really wise : we can believe in the abolition of death penalty, but the last word is for the majority of citizens, expressing their views through a democratical Parliament… that unfortunately we don’t actually have !
    P.S : Thanks for the compliments ! I noticed that your ability of writing in English is day-by-day rapidly progresing. Why don’t your share your opinions in a blog ?😉

  4. I loved your blog article. Really Cool. geckcgcegeff


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