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SCHOOL OF NURSING & ALLIED HEALTH SCIENCE

JANUARY 2011

MPW2153

MORAL STUDIES

MATRICULATION NO IDENTITY CARD NO. TELEPHONE NO. E-MAIL LEARNING CENTRE CENTRE

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690219075500001 690219075500 0195448114 PULAU PINANG LEARNING

INTRODUCTION Capital punishment, death sentence or death penalty is whereby an individual is taken off his life by the State as a punishment for a committed crime. Any crime that leads to a death sentence is known as capital offences. The term originated from the Latin word capitalis, which refers to execution by beheading the one at fault. (1). Capital punishment was widely practised even during the earliest time of civilisation and in relation to religious believe, capital punishment was executed to deter heavy offences. To date, there are more than twothird of the countries in the world have now abolished the death penalty in law or practice. (2)

Abolitionist for all Crimes Countries whose laws do not provide for the death penalty for any crime. (e.g. Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bhutan, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Burundi, Cambodia, Canada etc ) Abolitionist for ordinary crimes only Death penalty is sentenced for exceptional crimes such as crime under military law or crimes committed in exceptional

97 countries

8 countries

circumstances (e.g Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, El Salvador, Fiji, Israel, Kazakstan,Peru) Abolitionist in practice Retains Death penalty for ordinary crime such as murder but still considered abolitionist in practice as there has been no execution during the past 10 years are believed to have a policy or established practice of not carrying out executions. This also include countries which have made an international commitment not to use the death penalty. (e.g Morocco, Myanmar, Nauru, Niger, Papua New Guinea, Russian Federation, Sierra Leone, South Korea, Sri Lanka etc. ) Rententionist Countries and territories that retain the death penalty for ordinary crimes (e.g. Afghanistan, Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belize, Botswana, Chad, China etc) 57 countries 36 countries

(It was reported in the year 2010 that there are a total of 58 nations who still actively practice capital punishment, however Latvia joined the group of abolitionist this year (2012) abolishing death sentence for all crime)

Malaysia and Singapore are among the countries that practice death penalty for all crimes. In Malaysia, capital punishment is applicable to crimes such as murder, drug trafficking, treason, waging war against the nations ruler the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and acts of terrorism. Legislatively, only the High Courts have the jurisdiction to sentence a death penalty and the last resort for the convicted is to plead pardon for clemency. Pardon of clemency is only granted by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong for crime committed in the Federal territories or the Governor of the state where the crime is committed. If pardon of clemency is not granted, Death sentences shall then be carried out by hanging as provided in Section 281 of the Criminal Procedure Code. Similarly in Singapore, death penalty is mandatory for drugrelated offences and to which the procedure of an appeal for a lighter sentence is also similar. The sentenced has one appeal to the Court of Appeal of Singapore and the final recourse rests with the the President of Singapore, who has the power to grant clemency on the advice of the Cabinet.

Singapore was once well known to be one of the most aggressive executioners in the world. It was believed to have had more executions per capita than anywhere else and the overwhelming majority of those sent to the gallows were drug offenders.(3) In the past, very few voiced against the death penalty and it was the highlight or part and parcel of the tough laws that shaped the community. If you could recall historically, peasants were to be hanged if they defy their leaders or rulers for crime such as murder and treason. People in those days lived in fear of the gallows. Death penalty was undoubtedly one of the best crime deterring methods of that time. It was not something to be questioned or even mentioned. However, the turning point came about in the case of a young man named Yong Vui Guang (Yang Wei Guang) a young Sabahan. The case of Yong Vui Guang had let more people stepping forward and voice out against it. Even though awareness and discussion had increased over the years, there are many individuals who are still pro-death penalty as they agreed that it is the next section of this assignment, the scope of discussion shall include the advantages and

disadvantage of death penalties, death penalty from various religious viewpoint and alternatives to death penalties. PROS AND CONS OF DEATH PENALTY According to the Global Overview on the Death Penalty for Drug Offences 2010, conducted by International Harm Reduction Association, a remaining of 32 states still provide death penalty for drug related offences. Among the 32 states, 13 have the mandatory death. With the uprising awareness of the public towards death penalties, there have been ongoing debates for and against this issue. Those in favour of abolition argued that the death penalty was never an effective deterrent because murder and drug trafficking still happen from time to time. However, the advocates of the death penalty argued the otherwise. Those in favour of maintaining death penalty believes that: 1. Death penalty serves as a kind of closure or the least as a sense of comfort to those who had suffered profoundly from losing their loved one, be it mentally, physically and emotionally. For victims who survived the taunting ordeal, with their dignity and pride unwillingly taken from them, the best compensation would be having the criminal pay for his crime. Some victims or victims family make take a long time recover from bodily or mental damages. Thus, one of the things that helps hasten this recovery was to achieve some form of closure. If criminal of offences such as serial murder and serial rapist were sentenced to life imprisonment instead, it means that the criminal is still around to haunt the victim. It also signifies that justice had flawed and apparently fail at prevailing justice on the grounds of the victim. 2. It is believed that retaining harsh punishment like death penalty conduce fear in the potential murderers mind with regards to their future. Without the death penalty, crime would happen rampantly, rate of homicides and rape with increase drastically as potential criminal knows that the most they would be sentenced for is life imprisonment. Although life imprisonment is an effective deterrent, there are other factors and legal aspects to be considered thoroughly and comprehensively. In my point of view, we should retain death penalty as it is considered as an essential tool to fight premeditated crime.

3. As far as I am concern, sentencing a serial murderer who has mercilessly killed people or serial rapists who rape and torture their victims to life imprisonment speculates the risk them escaping from prison. (4) Life imprisonment means there is a chance of parole, which gives the criminal a chance take vengeance on those who testified against him. Perhaps the biggest reason to keep the death penalty is to prevent the crime from happening again. This indirectly keeps the community safe and protects those who testified against the convict. 4. One of the biggest arguments of the Abolitionists against death penalty is the possible of human error. One is not guilty until proven. Thus, it was their concern that an innocent man could be wrongly prosecuted for a crime he did not commit. Such stand or argument are baseless as with the concurrent rapid development of Portable microPCR industry instruments enable the simultaneous analysis of human RNA and DNA at the crime scene. The simultaneous analysis would be able to match and identify the culprits in a very short notice. Even if DNA testing and other such testing and other scientific methods did not exist, the appeal process is so thorough to impossible to convict an innocent person. 5. It contributes to the problem of overpopulation in the prison system. Prisons across the country face the problem of too many prisoners and not enough space & resources. Each additional prisoner requires a portion of a cell, food, clothing and others. Eliminating death penalty as an option along with the current situation of rising crime rate, this would lead us to shortage of prison cells and overpopulated system. In short, the existence of the death penalty gives prosecutors much more flexibility and power to ensure just punishments. Despite the advantages, human right activists had mooted the need and are working towards the abolition of death penalty due to the following reasons: 1. Death penalty is the premeditated and cold-blooded killing of a human being by the state in the name of justice. The Malaysian Bar advocates for the abolition of the death penalty in the belief that every individual has an inherent right to life. (5) This is because the execution of human beings in the name of justice serves as an example of barbarity to society and legitimises the taking of human life. How does that differ from what had been done by the accused, even it is in the name of justice. The

Amnesty International believes that "The death penalty is the ultimate denial of human rights. Although it puts an immediate end to crime. 2. Most people fail to realize that sentencing out one to death actually costs more than keeping that same criminal in prison for the rest of his life. This is because the cost incurred prior to and during the trial involves an endless stream of appeals. Investigation charges also rise exorbitantly, especially by the prosecution. Therefore, spending finances on death penalty is tantamount to reducing essential financial and time resources needed for crime prevention. 3. Drug trafficking carries the mandatory death sentence under section 39B of our Dangerous Drug Act. A person in possession of specified amount of dangerous drugs shall be presumed to be a trafficker (6). We are well acknowledged that the vast majority of arrests for drug trafficking is usually low-ranking drug mules who are easy to apprehend. Some of these drug mules were assigned to be trafficker in order to clear their debts or like in the case of Yong Vui Gang. For that, we could be sentencing an innocent man to death for others bad deeds and such decision is irrevocable. 4. Mandatory sentences are also an indirect interference with judicial independence and the right of a judge to tailor the penalty to suit the crime; to temper justice with mercy and to be fair to all sides the victim of the crime, the accused and society at large. (6) RELIGIOUS VIEW ON THE DEATH PENALTY Religiously, it speaks both for and against the system of the death penalty but most of it believed in reformation instead of demoralising. Does Islam support the death penalty? (11) The Quran, in a 1983 translation by M.H. Shakir and hosted online by the University of Michigan (accessed July 25, 2008), contains the following two references to a death penalty: "[5.32]...whoever slays a soul, unless it be for manslaughter or for mischief in the land, it is as though he slew all men; and whoever keeps it alive, it is as though he kept alive all men; and certainly Our apostles came to them with clear arguments, but even after that many of them certainly act extravagantly in the land.

[6.151]...do not kill the soul which Allah has forbidden except for the requirements of justice; this He has enjoined you with that you may understand." Does Hinduism support the death penalty? (11) Jagdish Muni, Head of Sant Mandal Ashram, in an Oct./Nov./Dec. 2006 article "Capital Punishment: Time to Abandon It?" published in Hinduism Today, stated: "The scriptures speak both for and against the system of capital punishment. The scriptures give the ruler or the government the power to use capital punishment. However, the saints and mahatmas do not believe in capital punishment. They believe in reforming people. There are a large number of instances in which saints have reformed criminals, in some cases so much so that the reformed people themselves became saints." Does Buddhism support the death penalty? o Leanne Fiftal Alarid, PhD, Associate Professor of Criminal Justice at the University of Texas at San Antonio, and Hsiao-Ming Wang, PhD, Associate Professor of Criminal Justice at the University of Houston-Downtown, wrote the following in their Mar. 22, 2001 article "Mercy and Punishment: Buddhism and the Death Penalty," published in Social Justice: "Buddhist doctrines hold nonviolence and compassion for all life in high regard. The First Precept of Buddhism requires individuals to abstain from injuring or killing all living creatures and Buddha's teaching restricts Buddhist monks from any political involvement. Using historical documents and interviews with contemporary authorities on Buddhist doctrine, our research uncovered a long history of political involvement by Buddhist monks and Buddhist support of violence. Yet, there seems to be limited Buddhist involvement in Southeast Asian countries in death penalty issues... o BuddhaNet, a not-for-profit organization affiliated with the Buddha Dharma Education Association Inc., posted the following definition of "Capital Punishment" on its website (accessed Aug. 4, 2008) in its glossary of Buddhist terms: "As capital punishment entails killing and therefore requires breaking the first Precept it is incompatible with Buddhist ethics and Buddhist social and legal

philosophy. The Buddha described the judges of his own time as practicing wrong livelihood as they often handed down cruel or lethal punishments." With the sightings of the three of the most significant religions in the world, we can conclude that Buddhism is against the notion of the death penalty due to its inconsistency. Both Islam and Hinduism weigh the significance of the offence prior determining the punishment. ALTERNATIVES TO THE DEATH PENALTY The most popular alternative to the death penalty is life imprisonment without the possibility of parole plus restitution. This alternative is more economical than the death penalty and it also keeps the criminal behind bars for the rest of his life. This indirectly creates a safe and better society. Law.com, an online resource for legal news and information defines prison without the possibility of parole as: "[A] sentence sometimes given for particularly vicious criminals in murder cases or to repeat felons, particularly if the crime is committed in a state which has no death penalty, the jury chooses not to impose the death penalty, or the judge feels it is simpler to lock the prisoner up and 'throw away the key' rather than invite years of appeals while the prisoner languishes on death row.. (10) Restitution means that while the prisoner is in jail, he will be put to work and every penny earned will be given to the victims family. In other words restitution or diyya is commonly known as the money penalty paid by a murder to the next of kin of the victim. This will completely protect the offender from vengeance of the convict. In March 2012 YB Dato Seri Mohammed Nazri presented in his keynote speech that death penalty should be abolished. He also stated two alternatives to punish convicted murderers: payment of blood money to the victims family and life imprisonment. (8) The following shares an insight of American and British on the subject of the strength of life imprisonment over the death penalty. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), in a section on its website about the death penalty accessed on Aug. 19, 2008, in an article titled "The Truth About Life Without Parole: Condemned to Die in Prison," wrote: "The death penalty costs more, delivers less, and puts innocent lives at risk. Life without parole provides swift, severe, and certain punishment. It provides justice to survivors of murder victims and allows more resources to be invested into solving

other murders and preventing violence. Sentencing people to die in prison is the sensible alternative for public safety and murder victims families." (9) Catherine Appleton, PhD, Research Officer at the Centre for Criminological Research, and Bent Grover, PhD, former Associate for Mitchell Madison Group/marchFIRST, in their Apr. 24, 2007 article for the British Journal of Criminology titled "The Pros and Cons of Life Without Parole," wrote: "For those in favour of LWOP [life in prison without parole], another key benefit is its retributive power. It is argued that murderers deserve to be so punished because of the heinous nature of their crimes. If the death penalty is to be abolished, a replacement sanction of sufficient gravity needs to be provided by law. Proponents in the United States have emphasized that life without parole is certainly not a lenient sentence (Blair 1994:198). Sometimes referred to as death by incarceration , such sentences are undeniably tough, pleasing both politicians and prosecutors, but also satisfying some opponents of the death penalty....

Deterrence is seen to be another major strength of LWOP. Some abolitionists have put forward the argument that while reviewable life sentences offer little in the way of deterring those who might kill, LWOP is undeniably harsh and its deterrent effect should not be underestimated." (9) In my opinion, I believe that it is of no necessary to completely abolish the death penalty, but make it voluntary. Contextually it means to that to allow the accused to choose between life imprisonment without parole or death. If the convicted chose death over life imprisonment, I find it nothing wrong in proceeding with the death penalty. This would nearly eliminate all the cost of the death penalty and allow the accused more time to prove his innocents. After all, every man deserves a second chance for a new breath of life. While the convicted is behind bars, I believe that he should work for the betterment of the society and that every earnings shall proceed to the victims family. This would help the victim family to cope in terms of financially, psychologically and emotionally. Last but not lease, it would help promote a fair and just judicial system fair trial and eliminate discrimination on death row.

CONCLUSION Death penalty is the act of killing a person via a judicial proceeding for retribution of a heinous crime committed, such as aggravated murder, felony killing or contract killing. In my opinion, with the sense of consciousness and respect for the living, I believe in a more humane approach than capital punishment. I would not say that I am totally against the death penalty but if given two options, I would uphold what my religion teaches the saints and mahatmas do not believe in capital punishment. They believe in reforming people. REFERENCE (1) Kronenwetter, Michael (2001). Capital Punishment: A Reference Handbook (2 ed.). ABC-CLIO. ISBN 978-1-57607-432-9.

(2) "Abolitionist and Retentionist countries | Amnesty International". Amnesty.org. Retrieved 30th June 2012 (3) http://suite101.com/article/the-pros-and-cons-of-the-death-penalty-a90241 (4) Priya Johnson (2010) Death Penalty Pros and Cons

http://www.buzzle.com/articles/death-penalty-pros-and-cons.html (5) Lim Chee Wee (2011) Press Release: Abolish the death Penalty now

http://www.malaysianbar.org.my/press_statements/press_release_abolish_the_death_ penalty_now.html (6) Charles Hector (2011) Time for Malays to abolish death penalty mandatory sentences" death.html (7) Charles Hector (2010) Malaysian Bar: Abolish the death penalty http://charleshector.blogspot.com/2011/04/time-for-malaysia-to-abolish-

http://charleshector.blogspot.com/2010/08/malaysian-bar-abolish-death-penalty.html (8) Adibah Ariffin and Satha Selvan Subramaniam (2012) Student Debate on the Abolition of the Death Penalty in Malaysia

http://www.malaysianbar.org.my/human_rights/student_debate_on_the_abolition_of_ the_death_penalty_in_malaysia.html

(9) Is life in prison without parole a better option than the death penalty? http://deathpenalty.procon.org/view.answers.php?questionID=001017 (10) What is life in prison without parole?

http://deathpenalty.procon.org/view.answers.php?questionID=001016 (11) Religious view on death penalty

http://deathpenalty.procon.org/view.answers.php?questionID=001180