3 major reasons to abolish the death penalty


3 major reasons to abolish the death penalty
By Zan Azlee

Kho Jabing would have been dead earlier this Friday morning if his death penalty was executed as planned by the Singaporean authorities. He is, of course, a convicted murderer.

The Sarawakian had been fighting for a stay against his execution right up until the eleventh hour, and late Thursday night his stay was granted.

His lawyer had filed an appeal that challenged the constitutionality of certain amendments to the mandatory death penalty in Singapore.

In Malaysia, another death penalty case that has been of attention lately (thanks to Amnesty International) is the sentencing of Shahrul Izani Suparman.

Izani was a 19 year old college student when he was stopped at a routine police road block while riding his motorcycle. 622 grams of cannabis was found in his possession.

He was arrested, charged, stood trial, found guilty and has been on death row ever since. He was a young boy who had no prior offences or any trouble with the law before this.

And here’s my opinion on the death penalty, or any form of capital punishment for that matter. I had wrote about this before in my column at The Malaysian Insider:

The death penalty leaves no room for the rehabilitation of those found guilty of crimes. Isn’t a life worth saving in any circumstances?

I believe that every human being makes mistakes, some bigger than others. And as human beings, we have a right to learn from our mistakes in order to be better.

Sure, we have laws and punishment for crimes, whether petty or serious. Nobody is saying that guilty criminals go unpunished. But putting someone to death for a crime is just wrong.

As society has developed and matured, we understand human behaviour much better and numerous studies have been made to show that criminals can be rehabilitated.

Sure, many people also have the opinion that when you have strict punishments like the death sentence, it could act as a deterrent to crime because people would be scared.

However, statistics in Malaysia and Indonesia (where there is capital punishment) shows that the number of people caught for the related offences have never really gone down.

Instead, Scandinavian countries like Sweden, Denmark and Norway, where people are rehabilitated rather than punished, have some of the lowest crime rates in the world.

And come to think of it, what about the risk of mistakes happening in the judiciary process? Many times, people have had their convictions overturned through new evidence and the such.

But once you have been killed, how do you overturn death? I doubt it would be sufficient to just declare a posthumous declaration of innocence. What’s the point, right?

Crime will happen because of many factors no matter what the legal consequences are. Criminals are willing to risk it because of much bigger environmental, psychological and societal factors.

And that is where we need to emphasise on and study, to look at closer at these factors that causes crime if we want to fight and eliminate it.

That is why I am also against punishments under hudud which involve dismemberments of limbs and what not. And yes, I am against stoning to death too.

It’s true what the saying goes – an eye for an eye would eventually leave the whole world blind. Or would limbless be more accurate?


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