Why abolish the death penalty?

on 23 November 2020

1- No State should have the power to take a person’s life.

2- It is irrevocable. No justice system is safe from judicial error and innocent people are likely to be sentenced to death or executed.

3- It unfair. The death penalty is discriminatory and is often used disproportionately against people who are poor, people with intellectual or psychosocial disabilities, and members of racial and ethnic minority groups. In some places, the imposition of the death penalty is used to target groups based on sexual orientation, gender identity, political opinion, or religion.

4- It is inhuman, cruel, and degrading. Conditions on death row and the anguish of facing execution inflict extreme psychological suffering, and execution is a physical and mental assault.

5- It denies any possibility of rehabilitation.

It does not offer justice to murder victim’s families: the effects of murder cannot be erased by more killing, and the death system prolongs the suffering of victims’ families.

6- It is applied overwhelmingly in violation of international standards: it breaches the principles of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states that everyone has the right to life and that no one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. On eight occasions, the United Nations General Assembly has called for the establishment of a moratorium on the use of the death penalty (Resolutions 62/149 in 2007, 63/168 in 2008, 65/206 in 2010, 67/176 in 2012, 69/186 in 2014, 71/187 in 2016, 73/175 in 2018, 75/183 in 2020).

7- It creates more pain, particularly for the relatives of the person sentenced to death, including children, who will be subjected to the violence of programmed and forced mourning.

8- It counterproductive, because by instituting the killing of a human being as a criminal solution, the death penalty endorses the idea of murder more than it fights it.

9- It is inefficient and does not keep society safe. It has never been conclusively shown that the death penalty deters crime more effectively than life imprisonment.

10- Not all murder victims’ families want the death penalty. A large and growing number of crime victims’ families worldwide reject the death penalty and are speaking out against it, saying it does not bring back or honor their murdered family member, does not heal the pain of the murder, and violates their ethical and religious beliefs.