Monday 21 November 2011

The death penalty debate should be relegated to history

The Green Party notes with grave concern the actions of Lagan Valley MP Jeffrey Donaldson and six DUP colleagues in supporting an early day motion at Westminster in respect of the re-introduction of the death penalty.

The entire direction of international human and civil rights law is towards the abolition of the death penalty. In a time of economic crisis it is astounding that DUP MPs believe the matter is worthy of debate. 

The death penalty is a cruel anachronism which should be relegated to history. There is no convincing evidence that the death penalty acts as deterrent to serious crime, particularly one would assume, for those seeking 'martyrdom' through terrorist acts.

There are many examples of individuals wrongly convicted for serious crimes for which the application of the death penalty would have resulted in terrible mistakes. It is very hard to appeal a conviction from the grave.

Both the UK and Ireland are founder signatories of the Council of Europe. This organisation was set up in the aftermath of World War II to promote co-operation in the field of democracy and human rights.
All Council members are party to the European Convention of Human Rights and the majority of Council members, including the United Kingdom, have ratified a protocol calling for the complete abolition of the death penalty.

It is shameful that a local elected parliamentarian wants to move the UK towards a position closer to that of Iran, Saudi Arabia and North Korea rather than to be aligned with our European colleagues. I am confident, should a debate take place, that the people and their elected representatives will drop any calls for judicial killing.


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