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Capital punishment and human rights.

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RE COURSEWORK- WRITTEN ASSIGNMENT The presentation was on the topic of capital punishment, which undeniably has a distinct connection with human rights. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), set up by the United Nations was the first international statement to use the term "human rights." It states that the rights of individuals are: * The right to legal recourse when their rights have been violated, even if the violator was acting in an official capacity * The right to life * The right to liberty and freedom of movement * The right to equality before the law * The right to presumption of innocence till proven guilty * The right to appeal a conviction * The right to be recognised as a person before the law * Freedom of thought, conscience, and religion * Freedom of opinion and expression * Freedom of assembly and association It has predominantly questioned whether capital punishment abuses the criminal's right to a life of sanctity as well as the right to human dignity. ...read more.


Undoubtedly such societies must learn punish criminals without becoming of them. The encouragement of revenge and violence, which the death penalty brings is directly linked to the high occurrence of crime. Hence the effect of being a deterrent is significantly weakened. The death penalty provides us the tragic illusion that we can defend life by taking life. It brutalises our sensitivities to the precious nature of human life. Our witness to respect life is more apparent when we demand respect for each and every human life, including the lives of those who fail to show respect for others. Strong emotion, alcohol, drugs, terrorism or psychopathic personalities can be in most cases the influences of crime. In order to be deterred rational thinking is required. Therefore it cannot be assured the capital punishment would act as an effective deterrent. Many of the criminals on death row may also tend to be zealots who would anyway want to die for the cause, such as in the case of Timothy McVeigh. Hence in such cases there would be not much deterrence value. ...read more.


According to the UDHR everyone deserves the right to equality before the law. It is usually the criminal who has fallen through the mistakes present in our social structure, for which we are more or less responsible. Therefore killing criminals insults our culture - society must stop making them and if made, we must reform them. Through vengeance justice cannot be achieved as according to the scriptures. In the Gospels, Jesus said that retaliation was an incorrect response to violence. He tells us to offer the other cheek and extend our hand in blessing and healing (Matthew 5:38-48). According to Pacem En Terris, 1963, "we are obliged as Christians to the development of social policies which meet the needs of victims as well as reforming those threatening public order." In a peaceful society there should be reconciliation between the criminal and the victim. Hence society should be sought and designed to rehabilitate the offender and understanding what led to the criminality should "redress the disorder caused by the offence" as stated in the encyclical Evangelium Vitae(The Gospel of Life) , by John Paul II. 1 ...read more.

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