Friday, July 31, 2015

Yakub Memon execution: India needs to become more humane and abolish capital punishment
Photo: India Today
[Editor: The event shows that the current Indian Leadership cannot think beyond a point, as the state still uses medieval methods as deterrents to curb crimes--oblivion of the limitations of the "Death Sentence". 
Moreover, it has been proved that Narendra Modi government, does not have the power of innovation. A long time Facebook Friend came out with a sharp criticism against me when he said: "Tumahre jaise log ho to India ko kab ka Pakistan bana de..same (sic) to be indain(sic)". But the question is: how does hanging of an Indian help the country not becoming Pakistan?
Also, the Indian media has to be more humane, because they are the ones who most of the time, are responsible for whipping up the frenzy, for the "Schizophrenia", called "Capital Punishment". 
Moreover, Tripura Governor Tathagata Roy's tweets about Yakub Memon's funeral have evoked sharp responses from everyone. The 70-year-old Roy tweeted saying those who attended the last rites of 1993 Mumbai blasts convict Yakub Memon were potential terrorists, who must now be keenly watched by the intelligence agencies.  The First Post writes on July 28, 2015: Some 300 Indians actually put their signatures on a petition to President Pranab Mukherjee asking for a reprieve for Memon. They include Sitaram Yechury, Naseeruddin Shah, Aruna Roy and the BJP’s own Shatrughan Sinha.
Meanwhile, the Congress (INC) leader Mani Shankar Aiyar earlier said, there was no benefit to be gained from giving death sentences to convicts, and called for the practice of death penalty to be abolished, as it has never acted as a deterrent against terrorism]
The mourning for Yakub Memon at his funeral
creates an impression of two Indias.
Photo: First Post
Jul 31, 2015: The debate over the rights and wrongs of Yakub Memon’s execution on Thursday is yet another example of how opinion is bitterly divided between those who support death penalty and those who don’t.

For the abolitionists, it is a rare opportunity to harness people’s sense of the right, their emotions, and their understanding of human rights because a spectacle of a state-sponsored killing shake their conscience. It’s an opportunity to play with human emotions for the retentionists too, but what they choose to bank on is the idea of retribution or revenge killing, the victims’ need for closure, and the need for legal, than social, instruments to deter crime.

It’s superfluous to reiterate that death penalty doesn't deter people from committing grievous crime in any part of the world - not now, not in the past. Every single study across the world over the years has unequivocally established this fact. A recent report from the University Colorado said that 88 percent of the criminologists in the country didn't believe that it’s a deterrent. If it had, the jails in countries with death penalty wouldn’t be overflowing and the number of executions in China, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and even a modern and democratic United States should have fallen to negligible levels.

Although only three have been executed in India, including Memon, in the last decade, more than 1300 convicts have been handed death sentences by various courts. Have the number deterred crimes? No.

It's the same for the rest of the world, even in countries, like Saudi Arabia and North Korea, where public executions are carried out in the most gruesome way possible.  It’s not the experience of a few decades that make this point, but the accumulated evidence of a few centuries.

Several countries, where convicted criminals many of them for even minor crimes, were subjected to extremely torturous deaths have realised the fallacy of deterrence and have completely abolished the practice. The obvious example is Europe in the 17th and 18 century, when people were “broken on the wheel”, boiled to death, crushed to death, pulled apart by horses, and burnt and mutilated. 

France used to be the barbaric Saudi Arabia of today where capital punishment was a theatre of terror; now the country wouldn’t even extradite people to places where they run the risk of death penalty.

Executions are example of ultimate cruelty to people, that too those who are held captive. And every piece of witness account has the same spine-chilling air of helplessness and pain. After sitting through the last execution in France in 1977, a judge wrote: “I heard a dull sound. I turned round - blood, lots of blood, very red blood - the body had toppled into the basket. In a second, a life had been cut. The man who had spoken less than a minute earlier was nothing more than blue pyjamas in a basket. A guard took out a hose. The evidence of a crime needs to be erased quickly... I felt nauseous but I controlled myself. I had a feeling of cold indignation.”

In fact, visionaries had acknowledged the barbarity and futility of capital punishment long ago. Cesarae Beccaria, great Italian criminologist and one of the icons of Enlightenment in western Europe, had said 250 years ago that capital punishment was both inhuman and ineffective, an unacceptable weapon of modern enlightened state to employ, and less effective than the certainty of imprisonment. In his seminal “On Crimes and Punishments”, he said: “It’s not useful because of the savagery it gives to men. It seems absurd to me that the laws which are the expressions of public will and which hate and punish murder, should themselves commit one, and that to deter citizens from murder, they should decree a public murder.”
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It’s certainly encouraging that Indian courts, despite freely issuing death sentences, also commute them to life sentences and the State hardly executes people these days. However, its choice of cases and people that it executes does evoke a sense of prejudice and injustice. If terrorism is one of the rarest of rare cases that the courts find it fit for capital punishment, how come some terror convicts alone go to the gallows while some, even with equally grievous charges, get lesser sentences? If the State gets to choose capital punishment for certain crimes, that too in select cases, it’s very hard to ensure that there is no politically motivated indiscretion.

Abolition of capital punishment is right not only criminologically, but also by international conventions on human rights including that of the UN, which wanted a moratorium on death penalty in 2007. It’s widely accepted that death penalty, is a “denial of the universal human rights to life and to freedom from tortuous, cruel, and inhuman punishment”. Additionally, it will also allay fears of selective persecution and misuse by the State.

If the death penalty doesn’t deter, if the “miscarriage or failure of justice in the implementation of the death penalty is irreversible and irreparable,” as the UN resolved in its General Assembly that many countries paid heed to while moving towards abolition, and if there are other forms of punishments such as long term imprisonment are possible, persisting with the practice will only perpetuate State-sponsored cruelty.

In the last 25 years, the number of countries that abolished death penalty rose from 35 to more than 100. Most of the countries that abolished death penalty have also incorporated it into their constitution. Similarly, the number of countries that were “de facto” abolitionist (no executions despite death sentences) has also doubled.

The idea of reparation of victims, doing justice to their suffering, and helping them find closure to their angst, doesn’t hold water because the purpose of rule of law is not to foster revenge killing, but to deliver justice. There should be an alternative model of victim support, without political and ideological exploitation, to address their emotions. And most importantly, the purpose of Law should be to deliver justice and protect human rights, than to pander to popular sentiments.

Courtesy: First Post
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