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Death Penalty: The Unanswered Concerns

Updated: Nov 26, 2022

Written by Adanur Nas


Referred as the facilitative way for reaching the salvation of humanity or the causation for the artificial doom’s day, the death penalty topic has always been the one for the debates which vary depending on religion, custom, and politics. As its name suggests, it involves death; therefore, it is only natural for it to be discussed thoroughly by all different groups of people. Death, simply, means the end of life. However, every simple entity has a more complicated side; in this sense, death also should have an intricate side. Complication brings about more questions; the unanswered questions turn into suspicions; suspicions become a source of the feeling of unsafety. Death’s complication lies within the fact that there will always be sentimental and moral challenges for it. No matter how atrocious that late person was, the people around them might still mourn after their loss even though this mourning could take distinctive forms; since after all, we are just humans. Then, there is the moral side of it as most people attach their credence to the belief that one’s life should be taken by the upper beings who grant life. Many parameters are affecting the process of people reaching a consensus on the matter of whether capital punishment should be abolished or enforced due to the various unanswered or overlooked dynamics.


Correlating the death penalty with religion is already a tricky approach to do, for religion is a topic for the debate itself. Although it has its own share of intrication, the death penalty is practiced by both secular and non-secular states. Starting with secular states, The United States of America would be the most convenient instance. The United States of America, a secular state, executed Brandon Bernard, a black man, in 2020 December due to the crimes he committed when he was a teenager, which also led to worldwide protests on either social media or streets. People had appealed to the Trump administration for withdrawing the execution order until his execution time was announced to be 2:32 AM GMT. One thing should be clear that none of the appealers defended his crimes; but rather were concerned that his race was being used as a catalyzer to rush his execution since Donald Trump, the former president of the USA, was scheduled to leave the chair to Joe Biden, the current president in office, within 40 days and most people pointed out that he would do whatever it takes to leave the country in turmoil. Additionally, they were expressing the feeling of inequality they felt owing to the fact that if such a crime had been committed in other countries, say the Republic of Turkey, they would have not been executed but served for their crimes in different ways.


Continuing with non-secular countries, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia would pose a perfect example. According to its 1992 Basic Law of Governance, Saudi Arabia’s religion is Islam. Moreover, unlike the other non-secular countries, Saudi Arabia imposes sanctions relatively harshly when it comes to its constitution. Many innocuous acts that are utterly fine to practice turn into taboos there. Even Saudi Arabia’s borderer, the United Arab Emirates, does not carry out capital punishment as much and rigorously as Saudi Arabia does, though both of them are non-secular states with Islam as their practices and capital punishment is yet to be abolished. By the virtue of its rigidity in the jurisdiction and upholding the law, it would not be staggering to see how the mass executions Saudi Arabia carries out annually made into the news. Saudi Arabia applied mass execution on 23rd April 2019 to 37 prisoners —32 of them were Shia Muslims, a minority communion in Saudi Arabia. This incident immediately found its place on the top of the international scenes regarding the atrocity of the death penalty and how it should be abolished as soon as possible. What is more, the citizens of the very mentioned country expressed their concerns on a different matter; they were afraid that the mass execution had been mostly applied due to the minority’s communion.


Manifesting itself in both of the examples regarding capital punishment in both secular and non-secular states, discrimination is an undeniable concern and problem. It is said to be a concern since people fear that they would be discriminated against due to their skin colors or religions; moreover, it is a problem since if it were not for discrimination, most of our society’s problems would not exist in the first place. Discrimination arises from the narrow-mindedness toward the idea of inclusivity which later springs to life as oppressions. Those oppressions are what played such significant roles in the wars such as World War II or the massacre of Madimak —the massacre in which Alevite and Kurds were targeted and murdered barbarously in Sivas, Turkey. People who feared Jewish (World War II), Alevite, and Kurdish people (Madimak Massacre), massacred them only, then brought about pain to their beloved ones as well as fear to people who shared the same religion or ethnicity as them. If we look into the dates they took place, they are not even that old, respectively they happened in 1939 and 1993. Taking notice of —even though society is said to be developed more in the modern age— the discrimination is still going on would be crucial to understand why the death penalty is yet to be accepted by many people. Providing that there is no such indicator that the discrimination will cease anytime soon, the governments cannot promise to be transparent and impartial for capital punishment. If inequality empierces the law even by the slightest, it will take the majority’s side; thus, the minority will be counteracted for that time being until a bigger problem occurs.


Intersecting with discrimination, sentimentality is another factor. Aforementioned, we are all just humans; thus, we could mourn after our losses. People around the prisoners who are on death row would prefer seeing their loved ones behind the bars to bury them under 6 feet. However, it is not just people around them who despise capital punishment due to their feelings, but even people who have never interacted with said prisoners. Some of them gather around the belief that one’s life could only be taken by the upper beings; therefore, the government does not have any right to make the utmost decision for its citizens. On the other hand, some of them believe that the death penalty is relatively an easy escape way for the convicts who committed the most atrocious crimes than serving behind bars until their times have come to an end.


Being not only exclusive to the aforementioned states, but other countries also demonstrated their approach to capital punishment as well. On account of their concerns regarding human rights, the members of the European Union collectively abolished capital punishment, whereas countries such as Russian Federation abolished it due to the moratorium. Additionally, some of the countries approach the death penalty in a different way —the Federative Republic of Brazil does not allow the penalty in law unless exceptional circumstances emerge. According to official data, the number of the states that abolished capital punishment completely doubles the number of those who still retain it. Moreover, the United Nations does not favor capital punishment by going as far as to say “no place for the capital punishment in the 21st century.” As signified, the majority of the world does not agree with the punishment and commit to the abolition movement of it.


Summing up, the parameters could be even more elaborated or augmented. Nonetheless, putting the determinants in order would be impossible for the time being since even the whole world is too focused on the sole inquiry that whether capital punishment should be enforced or not to start contemplating why they have found it inappropriate. Some people would express their apprehension to be discriminated against, while others would see it as an easy way to leave this world sooner without having to serve for the crimes their victims who were caught up in involuntarily. Although this subject will most likely continue to be the hot topic of debates on bigger scales such as the United Nations, one fact is non-negligible —without putting out a depiction of how there will not be any corruption in it, capital punishment will only continue to serve as a way to hurt people even when it is supposed to facilitate grasping the perfect society model that the people who are in charge and have power to imagine.


References:

1. Center, D. P. I. (2020, April 22). International. Death Penalty Information Center. Retrieved January 9, 2022, from https://deathpenaltyinfo.org/policy-issues/international.

2. Jazeera, A. (2020, December 11). Should the death penalty be abolished worldwide? Death Penalty | Al Jazeera. Retrieved January 9, 2022, from https://www.aljazeera.com/program/inside-story/2020/11/26/should-the-death-penalty-be-abolished-worldwide.

3. Jazeera, A. (2020, November 26). The US executes Brandon Bernard despite last-minute appeals. Death Penalty News | Al Jazeera. Retrieved January 9, 2022, from https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/12/11/us-executes-by-lethal-injection-brandon-bernard-a-black-man.

4. News, A. P. (2021, October 6). Emirati court sentences 5 foreigners to death for murder. AP NEWS. Retrieved January 9, 2022, from https://apnews.com/article/dubai-middle-east-united-arab-emirates-crime-7a9a785c0cd5fd1d58d7bdc03fe59a2e.

5. Pascoe, D., & Bae, S. (2021, May 18). Latest developments in the Unga Death Penalty Moratorium Resolutions. Oxford Law Faculty. Retrieved January 9, 2022, from https://www.law.ox.ac.uk/research-and-subject-groups/death-penalty-research-unit/blog/2021/05/latest-developments-unga-death.

6. Policy Department, D.-G. for E. P. (2012, December 4). Death penalty in the Middle East and ... - European parliament. The death penalty in the Middle East and North Africa. Retrieved January 9, 2022, from https://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/briefing_note/join/2012/491450/EXPO-JOIN_SP(2012)491450_EN.pdf.


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