Should we abolish the death penalty
ACAT Switzerland - For a world free from torture and the death penalty
Myths and facts about the death penalty
"The death penalty has a deterrent effect on violent crimes and brings more security to society."
The death penalty has no specific effect on crime. Studies conducted in the US in 2004 show that the average homicide rate in states that enforce this sentence is 5.71 per 100,000 people and 4.02 for states that do not. Similar studies in Canada between 1975 (the year before capital punishment was abolished) and 2003 found that homicides fell 44 percent. In addition, potential sanctions have only limited influence on criminal acts, as the delinquents do not believe that they will be arrested and held accountable for their actions. The death penalty does not make society safer. It can legitimize the use of violence and maintain the cycle of violence.
"The death penalty lowers drug-related crime."
Recourse to the death penalty for violations of the Narcotics Act is contrary to international law.
Indonesia, China, Iran, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia and Singapore are among those countries that carry out the death penalty for violating the Narcotics Act. The use of the death penalty to act as a more deterrent than long prison terms in this type of crime has never been clearly established.
«Whoever has killed deserves to die. That is compensatory justice. "
In modern western law, the principle of retaliation for like for like in criminal matters no longer occurs. According to today's view, this is more a question of private revenge than justice.
The death penalty violates the right to life and the right not to be subjected to cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment. It is a violation of the principle «You shall not kill». The death penalty is final and irrevocable. Innocent people can be executed. In addition, it is often arbitrarily imposed in the wake of legally questionable trials (and sometimes based on confessions extorted under torture) and against socially disadvantaged people or members of minorities. Furthermore, the execution of the murderer does not bring justice to the victim's family.
"The threat of execution is an effective strategy against terrorism."
People who are ready to commit acts of violence with a high potential for destruction in order to terrorize society know that they are taking great physical risks. So they don't care about your safety. Executing such individuals often amounts to promoting the groups to which they belong and producing martyrs who will attract even more followers. Numerous countries have tried to halt terrorism by using the death penalty. In November 2005 Iraq passed the “Iraqi Anti-Terror Law”, which only vaguely defines the “wave of terrorism”. Numerous executions have been carried out in Iraq in the name of this law.
"The death penalty is permissible if it is supported by a majority of the population."
States are entitled to enact laws, but with respect for human rights. History is full of human rights violations that were once approved by a majority but are now disgusting. Slavery, racial segregation and lynching were accepted in certain societies, although such practices trample or continue to trample on victims' rights. It is understandable that the population demands tough measures against violence from those responsible and expresses their anger at brutal violent criminals. Nevertheless, personalities from politics and society should set a good example and defend human rights with the opposition to the death penalty. In addition, they should explain to their fellow citizens why states must refrain from such practices.
"Executions are the cheapest solution for violent crimes."
This claim is wrong. In the USA in particular, the question of the cost of the death penalty is being raised more and more. While it is difficult to quantify the real cost of the death penalty, all of the studies conducted in different countries conclude that it is more expensive than incarceration. Incidentally, betting on the death penalty to reduce the number of prisoners is an utterly futile endeavor. There are approximately 2.2 million prisoners in the United States, but only 3,000 people sentenced to death. Even if all of these convicts were executed, there would be no noticeable decrease in the number of prisoners. It is important to note here that a society must not accept violence and sacrifice human rights in order to reduce costs. The decision to end a life must not be motivated by money.
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