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Is an eye for an eye a legal remedy in the 21st century?

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Nikki Logan Is an eye for an eye a legal remedy in the 21st century? This paper deals with the notion of 'an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth' and the effect this has on society in its most violent form, this notion manifests itself in a nations law as the death penalty for serious crimes. I will discuss both the pro and contra arguments in support and abolition of the death penalty. These arguments are based in literature sourced from, papers, case studies, determinations, legislation and public comment. The result of this paper is an analysis of the interrelationship between law, justice and society and the changing nature of law as it relates to capital punishment. Capital Punishment; is killing the murderer in itself an act of murder, breaching the most valuable of human rights, the right to life? Should it be seen that the death penalty is considered as a legal obligation that should be enforced in our modern day society? The abolishment of the Death Penalty in many countries has proved the answers to these questions to be against the death penalty. However there is still a concerned eighty-three countries world wide that have not abolished this form of punishment. The 20th century was a period where human rights were recognised more widely, and a time of attempting to protect these rights that were being breached. The death penalty is considered the most sever abuse of Human Rights.i In addition to Human Rights the individual has civil rights afforded them by their citizenship. 'Civil rights is used to imply that the state has a positive role in ensuring all citizens equal protection under law and equal opportunity to exercise the privileges of citizenship and otherwise to participate fully in national life, regardless of race, religion, sex, or other characteristics unrelated to the worth of the individual.'ii It is fundamental that every individual has Civil Rights and to ensure these there are many avenues of protection, such as a bill of rights in the US and UK, or as we have in Australia, under our constitution. ...read more.


In 1977 the resume of Judicial Killing was once again on its way. Even before the Supreme courts decision was made in 1972 there had been a minimal amount of executions made. From 1966-1977 there were only 4 executions.xxi In consideration of facts the questions have to be asked; why did the death penalty halt between this period, even before the 1972 decision? And why has it risen in the past years? An indicator to the US that they are lacking the western modern day civilized view on the death penalty should be from the large minority of countries that have abolished the death penalty. Recently a European Court ruled that Turkey's imposition of the death penalty can "no longer be seen as having any legitimate place in a democratic society"xxii as it violated the European Convention on Human Rights' ban on inhuman and degrading treatment. The US should follow in some of its fellow states footsteps that have taken the materialistic approach of abolishing the death penalty. The three highest countries that exercise the death penalty to a great extent are China, Iran and America. As one of the most powerful, civilized and developed countries in the world the US should feel ashamed to stand in line with less developed eastern countries for their lawful wrongdoings. In the 18th century Europe ended judicial torture and opted for life imprisonment. Many European countries saw the execution of offenders decrease and in some cases abolishment of such a punishment. Yet America still institutes the death penalty despite other countries agonizing perseverance to repute and the UN' s international law and treaties. An example of the differentiating views on the death penalty between countries was when 'the British government legally challenged the US's use of the death penalty in order to stop the executions of the death row inmates Tracy Housel and Jackie Elliot. Foreign Office of the British Government had serious concern about the trials of both men and the quality of evidence used to convict them and was considering taking the matter to the ICJ. ...read more.


Right to Life (Signed but not ratifies by the US) 1. Every person has the right to have his life respected. This right shall be protected by law and, in general, from the moment of conception. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life. 2. In countries that have not abolished the death penalty, it may be imposed only for the most serious crimes and pursuant to a final judgment rendered by a competent court and in accordance with a law establishing such punishment, enacted prior to the commission of the crime. The application of such punishment shall not be extended to crimes to which it does not presently apply. 3. The death penalty shall not be re-established in states that have abolished it. 4. In no case shall capital punishment be inflicted for political offences or related common crimes. 5. Capital punishment shall not be imposed upon persons who, at the time the crime was committed, were under 18 years of age or over 70 years of age; nor shall it be applied to pregnant women. 6. Every person condemned to death shall have the right to apply for amnesty, pardon, or commutation of sentence, which may be granted in all cases. Capital punishment shall not be imposed while such a petition is pending decision by the competent authority. xviii "We simply cannot say we live in a country that offers equal justice to all Americans when racial disparities plague the system by which our society imposes the ultimate punishment." US Senator, January 2003 xix 1972 Supreme Court: (Furnman v. Georgia, 408 U.S.238). xx R.J. Lifton and G. Mitchell, Who owns death?, chapter 2 (Executions in America) pg.41 xxi www.ojp.gov xxii Kurdish Media, March 12, 2003 xxiii The Independent xxv Statute of Amnesty International CORE VALUES 2. Amnesty International forms a global community of human rights defenders with the principles of international solidarity, effective action for the individual victim, global coverage, the universality and indivisibility of human rights, impartiality and independence, and democracy and mutual respect. xxvi Then UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson. ...read more.

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