Partial victory against the death penalty
Rome (AsiaNews) – A few hours after the United Nations adopted yesterday a moratorium on the death penalty, some of the world’s greatest supporters of capital punishment, Iran and China, showed their contempt for the decision of the world body. This morning seven men and one woman were executed in Tehran’s Evin Prison, blogger, women rights and anti-death penalty campaigner Asieh Amini reported today. In China’s Guizhou province, two teachers were sentenced to death for pushing tens of their female students into prostitution. Also in China it was reported that Li Bin, the self-proclaimed “King of Shanghai's underworld,” was executed yesterday. He had led a criminal gang that trafficked in drugs and was involved in illegal gambling.
These news items indicate that yesterday’s victory was only partial. The UN General Assembly only adopted a non-binding moratorium that urges countries that still have the death penalty to suspend its application.
The resolution approving the moratorium was adopted by a margin of 104 votes in favour and 54 against with 29 abstentions. It marks a positive development in the area of human rights protection because it shows that a majority of states no longer believe that they can act as the ultimate arbiter of life and death, even in the case of the worst offenders.
To win the battle for human dignity we must continue to push pro-death penalty nations and those that abstained to accept the complete and total abolition of capital punishment, not only because it is cruel but also because it is useless. For years it has been apparent that that the death penalty does not work as a deterrent.
But the victory is only partial in other sense. The fight for prisoners’ right to life would be more authentic and not ideological if it upheld everyone’s right to life, including that of unborn children.
Many of the states that are in the forefront of the struggle against the death penalty are also amongst the most violent champions of birth control campaigns, forced sterilisation and late-pregnancy abortions.
Even many states and organisations that view themselves as ‘peace-loving’ are untroubled by the holocaust of millions of children.
“If a mother can kill her own child,” Mother Teresa said once, “what is left for me to kill you and you to kill me?”
And so if we (rightly) save the life of a criminal but sentence to death a voiceless foetus or embryo, are we truly civilised?