Day: March 4, 2012

DEATH PENALTY : Reasons for the total abolition of this degrading and inhuman punishment

1 – Death Penalty violates the right to life.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) recognizes each person’s right to life. Article 4 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR) states that Human beings are inviolables. Every human being shall be entitled to respect for his life and the physical and moral integrity of his person. this view is reinforced by the existance of international and regional treaties providing for the abolition of the death penalty, notably the second optional protocol of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1989.


2 – Death Penalty is a cruel and inhuman death.

The UDHR categorically states that No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. All forms of execution are inhuman. No government can guarantee a dignified and painless death to condemned prisoners, who also suffer psychological pain in the period between their sentence and execution.


3 – Death Penalty has no dissuasive effect.

No scientific study has proved that the death penalty has a more dissuasive effect on crime than other punishments. The most recent investigation into the links of cause and effect between capital punishment and the murder rate, was conducted by the United Nations in 1988 and updated in 2002. It came to the following conclusion :

“…it is not prudent to accept the hypothesis that capital punishment deters murder to a marginally greater extent than does the threat and application of the supposedly lesser punishment of life imprisonment.”


4 – Death Penalty is premeditated murder, demeans the state and makes society more violent.

By executing a person, the state commits a murder and shows the same readiness to use physical violence against its victim as a criminal. Moreover, studies have shown that the murder rate increases immediately after executions. Researchers have suggested that this increase is similar to that caused by other violent public events, such as massacres and assassinations.

5 – Death Penalty is discriminatory in its application.

Throughout the world, the death penalty is dsproportionately used agianst disadvantaged people. Some condemned prisoners from the most impoverrished social classes would not have been sentenced to death if they were from wealthier sectors of society. In these cases, either the accused are less able to find their way through the maze of the judicial system (because of a lack of knowledge, confidence or financial means), or the system reflects the generally negative attitude of sociéty and the powerful towards them. It has also been proved that certain criminals run a greater risk of being condemned to death if their victims come from higher social classes.

6 – Death Penalty denies the capacity of people to mend their ways and become a better person.

Defenders of the death penalty consider that anyone sentenced to death is unable to mend their ways and could re-offend at any time if they are released. However, there are many examples of offenders who have been reintegrated and who have not re-offended. Amnesty International believes that the way to prevent re-offending is to review procedures for conditional release and the psychological monitoring of prisoners during detention, and under no circumstances to increase the number of executions. In addition, the death penalty removes any possibility for the condemned person to repent.

7 – Death Penalty cannot provide social stability nor bring peace to the victims.

An execution cannot give the victim his or her life back nor ease the suffering felt by their family. Far from reducing the pain, the length of the trial and the appeal procedure often prolong the family’s suffering.

8 – Death Penalty denies the fallibility of human institutions.

The risk of executing innocent people remains indissolubly linked to the use of the death penalty.

Since 1973, 116 people condemned to death in the United States have been released after proof of their innocence has been established. Some of them have only just escaped execution, after having passed years on death row. These repeated judicial errors have been especially due to irregularities committed by prosecution or police officers, recourse to doubtful evidence, material information or confessions, or the incompetence of defense lawyers. Other prisoners have been sent to their deaths when serious doubts existed about their guilt

9 – Death Penalty is a collective punishment.

 This punishment affects all the family, friends and those sympathizers with the condemned person. The close relatives of an executed prisoner, who generally do not have anything to do with the crime, could feel, as a result of the death penalty, the same dreadful sense of loss as the victim’s parents felt at the death of their loved one.

10 – Death Penalty goes against the religious and humanist values that are common to all humanity. Human rights are universal, indivisible and interdependent.

11. The convicted has a family.

  A mother, who commited no crime and suffers even more than the convicted man, what is her crime ? Her loving son or daughter ? Is she less of a mother than the victim’s mother ? Sometimes baby sons and daughters, or worse ; in an age where they realize what is going on…old grandmothers who die of grief, is that fair ?

12. Scientists are studying the brain of violent criminals and finding out that their brain chemistry is different, and therefore they are unable to feel regret, even facing death… So where is the punishment if he or she never regrets ? Isn’t that the goal of death penalty ?

13. Many countries condemn children to death too.

 Boys with 14 years of age or less… Children are sacred anywhere, it is scaring and inhuman enough for an adult, a child has a whole life ahead to realize his or her mistake…

14. Death penalty is expensive to the public exchequer and money spent there should not be used to killing people, but to heal them, to help those sick : whether the convicted or other citizens by public health measures.

15. A crime should not be punished with another.

The State has to give the good example.

16. In the cost/benefits balance the «against» arguments certainly are heavier !

Since it is expensive and does not achieve any of its goals : punishment/regret or crime dissuasion, besides the fact that it punishes those around the convicted sine no man is an island, and if it is, there should be understanding to him or her, sympathizing with one who has suffered much already…

17. Many of these men and women are judged for 5 minutes, 30 minutes of their liveswhere they made a mistake, their personal history is ignored and not seen with wisdom as law should do.

18. It may in fact encourage crime because you can only apply death penalty once, and so killing on, two, or ten : the price is the same, so if the murder gets caught for one he gets caught for all.

19. It also encourages crime because the family of the executed, namely sons and daughters, may increase their hate towards the State, the victims family, and may wanna do justice their way…


BY Laurence Meylemans

US – 10 convicts presumed innocent after execution

Carlos De Luna
Executed in 1989

Carlosdeluna Bookingphoto

In February 1983, Wanda Lopez, was stabbed to death during her night shift at the gas station where she worked. After a brief manhunt, police found De Luna hiding under a pick-up truck. Recently released from prison, he was violating his parole by drinking in public. De Luna immediately told police that he was innocent and he offered the name of the person who he saw at the gas station. Police ignored the fact that he did not have a drop of blood on him even though the crime scene was covered in blood. De Luna was arrested too soon after the crime to clean himself up. The single eyewitness to the crime, Kevin Baker, confirmed to police that De Luna was the murderer after police told him he was the right guy.

At trial De Luna named Carlos Hernandez as the man he saw inside the gas station, across the street from the bar where De Luna had been drinking. Hernandez and DeLuna were strikingly similar in appearance but, unlike DeLuna, Hernandez had a long history of knife attacks similar to the convenience store killing and repeatedly told friends and relatives that he had committed the murder. Friends confirmed that he was romantically linked to Lopez as well. De Luna’s lawyers knew of Hernandez’s criminal past but never thoroughly investigated his previous crimes. On December 7, 1989, Texas executed 27-year old Carlos De Luna.

Executed in 1995

Larry Griffin

On June 26, 1980 in St. Louis, Missouri, 19-year-old Quintin Moss was killed in a drive-by shooting while allegedly dealing drugs on a street corner. The conviction was based largely on the testimony from Robert Fitzgerald, a white career criminal, who was at the scene at the time of the murder. He testified that he saw three black men in the car when shots were fired and that Griffin shot the victim through the window of the car with his right hand. This was Griffin’s attorney’s first murder trial and he did not challenge the testimony even though Griffin was left-handed. He also failed to bring forth an alibi witness who was with Griffin at the time of the murder.

Griffin’s fingerprints were not found on the car or the weapon – all evidence against him was circumstantial. There is evidence that suggests Fitzgerald was promised a reduce sentence in exchange for his testimony. The prosecution also failed to address that there were two other witnesses who confirmed that Griffin did not commit the murder and they were able to name the three men who did.Appeals courts upheld his conviction and death sentence. Griffin was executed by lethal injection on June 21, 1995. Griffin maintained his innocence right up to his execution. In 2005, a professor University of Michigan Law School reopened the case. His investigation concluded that Griffin was innocent.

Executed in 1993

Ruben Cantu

On the night of November 8, 1984, Ruben Cantu and his friend David Garza, broke into a vacant San Antonio house under construction and robbed two men at gunpoint. The two victims, Pedro Gomez and Juan Moreno, had been workmen sleeping on floor mattresses at a construction site, guarding against burglary. As they tried to take their cash, they were interrupted by Gomez’s attempt to retrieve a pistol hidden under his mattress. The boys shot both men killing Gomez instantly. Thinking they had killed both men, the two teens then fled the scene.

The police showed Moreno photos of suspects, which included Cantu’s picture, and he was unable to identify his attacker. On the basis of no physical evidence, no confession, and only Moreno’s subsequently recanted testimony, a jury convicted Ruben Cantu of first-decree murder. Juan Moreno now says that he had felt pressure from the police to finger Cantu. David Garza, Cantu’s codefendant, has since admitted involvement in the burglary, assault and murder. He says he did go inside the house with another boy, did participate in the robbery, and saw the murder take place, but that his accomplice was not Ruben Cantu.On August 24, 1993, Ruben Cantu at the age of 26, was executed by lethal injection. His final request was for a piece of bubble gum, which was denied.

David Spence
Executed 1997


In 1982, David Spence was accused of the rape and murder of two 17-year-old girls and one 18-year-old boy in Waco, Texas. He received the death penalty in two trials for the murders. Muneer Deeb, a convenience store owner, hired Spence to do the murders and he was also charged and sentenced to death. He received a new trial in 1993 and was later acquitted.

The prosecution built its case against Spence around bite marks that a state expert said matched Spence’s teeth and jailhouse snitches. Two of the six jailhouse witnesses who testified at trial later recanted, saying they were given cigarettes, television and alcohol privileges, and conjugal visits for their testimonies. Spence’s post-conviction lawyers had a blind panel study in which five experts said the bite marks could not be matched to Spence’s. Even the original homicide investigator on the case said he had serious doubts about Spence’s guilt and a former Waco police detective involved in the case said he did not think Spence committed the crime. David Spence was executed by lethal injection on April 14, 1997.

executed in 1990


On the morning of February 20, 1976, Highway Patrol officer, Phillip Black, and Donald Irwin, approached a car parked at a rest stop for a routine check. Tafero, his partner Sonia “Sunny” Jacobs, and Walter Rhodes were found asleep inside. Black saw a gun lying on the floor inside the car so he woke the occupants and had them come out of the car. According to Rhodes, Tafero then shot both Black and Irwin with the gun, which was illegally registered to Jacobs, led the others into the police car and fled the scene. All three were arrested after being caught in a roadblock. The gun was found in Tafero’s waistband.

At their trial, Rhodes testified that Tafero and Jacobs were solely responsible for the murders. Tafero and Jacobs were convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death while Rhodes was sentenced to 3 life sentences. Rhodes was eventually released in 1994 following parole for good behavior. Because the jury had recommended a life sentence for Jacobs, the court commuted Jacobs’ sentence to life in prison, but not Tafero’s. She was later released after agreeing to a plea bargain. Prior to his release, Rhodes confessed several times to lying about his involvement in the shooting. Even Sunny Jacobs claimed that Rhodes, not Tafero, carried out the shooting as well. Rhodes was the only person on which traces of gunpowder were found. Tafero was executed by electric chair on May 4, 1990. The chair malfunctioned causing the process to take over 13 minutes.

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