Tuesday, July 17, 2007

A question of life or death

Should we just think of and preserve the rights of the murderer and not think of the rights of others?

This question, from Suhaila Hammad of Saudi Arabia's National Society for Human Rights is, as far as I'm concerned, a direct shot at the hullabaloo that human rights activists create when it comes to the death penalty.

Dont get me wrong, I'm against the death penalty too. I dont want murderers and rapists and genocidal dictators (not EVEN George Bush or ex-World Prez Blair) condemned to death for their crimes.

But my reason for this is the direct opposite of those who think any life too precious to be taken (and I cant help feeling that the phrase "especially that of murderers and killers" ought to have been added to the end of the previous sentence). I dont think murderers' lives are precious. I'm against the death penalty because I think a quick death is too damned easy a way out for the evil b*astards who abuse and kill the innocent. (A secondary reason is that IF their innocence is established later, it wont do them much good if they're dead. There isnt much point to posthumous freedom.)

Death would mean they wouldnt suffer much. Their punishment should be solitary confinement for life - just one little room in which to spend their remaining days. No time off for good behaviour (that deserves a separate rant in itself, which I will save for another day), no TV, no books, no luxuries of any sort. Just plenty of time to think about the people they abused and/or killed, and the helpless grief and bereavement of the families who lost loved ones for no reason. Since the bereaved cant speak to their loved one ever again, the murderer should have to suffer the same sort of bereavement while living. Yes, that would mean his innocent family might be affected too... but that's justice. Tit for tat, without taking a life for a death. If you think that is a living death, so be it. I think the same too.

Why fight for the rights of those who didnt give a single thought to the rights of the human beings they killed? What about the rights of the innocent victims who died unnaturally, their lives cut short by random violence? Even if we concede that the dead no longer have a say in anything, shouldnt the rights of the families of victims take precedence over those of the murderers? I definitely do think so.

Suhaila Hammad's question is relevant in the widest sense, even if not in this particular case. I dont know the facts here but if the Sri Lankan maid didnt have a lawyer to defend her, I guess the trial cant have been fair except as in Islamic law. That comes down to religion, in any case, not law. I feel most strongly that religion should NOT have any kind of say when it comes to law and crime. It wasnt Allah Himself who decided that the maid should be beheaded - human beings did.


B o o said...

Shyam, Until what you described as a fitting punishment happens, I ll support capital punishment, thank you very much. the only reason I support death penalty is that otherwise our tax money will be spent on the prisoners food and other things and they will be eating, breathing and living while the victim was denied the chance. I cant imagine a person living after harming my loved one. I cant! Thats not justice.

shyam said...

Boo: I've thought about that too, BUT... I'd still rather they lived to regret their actions. Yes, they'd be eating, breathing and living, but only just. About the taxpayers money - yeah, valid point. But unless I could harm that person exactly the way my loved one was harmed, I dont think I'd want them to die too soo. Sounds gruesome but I could never forgive anyone who harmed my loved ones.

mumbaigirl said...

I'm a "human rights activist" I suppose, given that I work for a human rights organisation. There is a huge amount of human rights work directed at victims as well. When I oppose the death penalty I do it because I think no one has the right to take the life of another. If we are condemning a murderer, why become murderers ourselves? Why brutalise ourselves and society further? This does not equal to defending killers/not fighting for the rights of victims, or not punishing murderers. Am all for punishment and protecting victims. Currently the UK is failing on all counts-not punishing those that need to be punished, not rehabilitating those who could be, and not providing victims of crime enough support.

shyam said...

MG: I agree. I dont support the death penalty - although sometimes I'm tempted to. Agree too, that the UK seems to be failing on all counts :(

sra said...

Shyam, this reminds me of a Telugu movie called Abhilasha - this raises exactly the same question as you've raised - why should the murderer have a simple exit in a matter of a minute, not realising nor squirming nor repentime for the lifetime of grief he has caused - and has had me thinking along the same lines ever since I saw that movie in school.
When I see murderers, rapists and other offenders, especially five-star ones, swagger on TV, off with their heads, I feel, but that's an instinctive reaction.
However, there's one thing I keep wondering about - the jails are filled to bursting, there's no way they will keep these people imprisoned for life, what if these fellows come out and go back to their bad ways? For all we know, they wouldn't have changed a bit but hardened more and more! Unless you count old age as being the de-fanger, and that's no guarantee, is it?