Victims of crime oppose the death penalty


on 26 February 2010

Does retribution bring relief to a victim’s family? According to Renny Cushing, Executive Director of Murder Victims’ Families for Human Rights (MVFHR), the answer is no. Victims’ families are often opposed to the death penalty. He reports a mother’s story: “We cannot honour our daughter by killing her murderer. I believed in it at first, but now I know it’s not what I need; I need help as a victim”. Thus, it is help and compensation that are required rather than punishment: understanding what happened in the case, knowing the truth and obtaining compensation, not taking a life.
Masaharu Harada, member of MVFHR Japan, was himself victim of a murder attempt. He now takes pictures of victims’ and sentenced prisoners’ families. He explained that in Japanese society, more than 85% of the population is in favour of the death penalty and that the families of prisoners sentenced to death are rejected by society. 
Guissou Jahangiri, Executive Director of the Armanshahr Foundation, described how in Afghanistan: “It’s almost unreal to fight against the death penalty when every day there are new civilian victims in a country that has endured violence and impunity for the last four decades”.
Nevertheless, a Plan of Action for Peace, Reconciliation and Justice was set up in 2005. Its goals include the recognition of the suffering, of the Afghan people, investigations into crimes committed and the creation of a justice system. This indicated the beginnings of national reconciliation through reflections on mending and compensating rather than through prioritizing punishment 

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