Yet this is the chain of events that the home secretary, Sajid Javid, has set in motion with a letter to the US attorney general, Jeff Sessionspublished in a newspaper on Monday. And while the United Kingdom abandoned the death penalty in — the year of the last executions — nearly half of the British public favours a reintroduction of it though that figure has been dropping steadily.
Few topics incite such moral passion and controversy. At the very least, our system needs to start holding people accountable. At the vote in Geneva, 13 of 47 council members voted against the resolution, including the United States.
It is wrong to suggest there is a moral claim for retribution. Its abolition has been an objective of foreign policy. Doing so would surely slash the crime rate, yet most people would judge it to be wrong. But it is deeply concerning that Mr Javid apparently believes a successful prosecution is more likely to take place in the US than in the UK, even if this includes the violation of human rights norms to which the UK has adhered for decades.
So it is appalling to learn that a British cabinet minister would see fit to send two men to stand trial in America on charges that could see them executed. Depending on how you think about death, however, you might oppose the death penalty on the grounds that it is disproportionately harsh — perhaps you think that no matter what someone has done, she does not deserve to die for it.
Moreover, capital punishment will only breed more injustice upon its practical application, as evidenced by the goals of the UN resolution — to protect those most vulnerable from being unfairly affected.
There is no evidence suggesting that increasing executions leads to a reduction in crime. Coverage of this resolution has mainly focused on its language opposing the death penalty as punishment for homosexuality.
Retributivists also think that the severity of punishment should match the severity of the crime. The United States prides itself on freedom of speech and religion, and seeks to promote human rights abroad. Similarly, both the number of crimes and the number of executions have fallen in the past decade.
We will not make progress in the public debate about the death penalty unless we realise that it is only one element in a much bigger controversy: Every country mentioned currently allows its citizens to be sentenced to death.
What is the point of a criminal reforming herself as she prepares for the execution chamber? Many people who opposed the recent death sentence for the Boston bomber did so on the grounds that life in a maximum-security prison would be a worse punishment — and so more fitting — than death.
While many European countries urge an ethic of rehabilitation in their criminal justice systems, many jurisdictions in the United States stand firmly in favour of capital punishment for serious crimes.
If the United States wants to be a part of the humane, optimistic future that the rest of the world dares to envision, we can start by reforming or, even better, abolishing our use of the death penalty — and then advocating for similar reform abroad. The United States is an exception, wrongly persisting with the death penalty.
On the other hand you might oppose the death penalty on the grounds that it is disproportionately light. If you are a retributivist, you might support the death penalty because you think that certain or all murderers and perhaps other criminals deserve to suffer death for their crimes.
This article is part of a series on capital punishment that The Conversation is publishing. After all, imagine if we threatened execution for all crimes, including minor traffic violations, theft, and tax fraud.
Kotey and Elsheikh have been stripped of their British citizenship, and since the men they are alleged to have killed included Americans, there is a case for trying them in the US.
As The Conversation invites us to rethink the death penalty over the next few weeks, we must not conduct this discussion in a vacuum. No doubt some people will feel that the sheer horror of such deeds means we need not worry too much about due process.
The murders these men are alleged to have committed alongside two other British men — Mohammed Emwazi, known as Jihadi John, and Aine Davis — were barbaric.
But the basic idea is that punishment should make the wrongdoer understand what he or she has done wrong and inspire her to repent and reform. If anything, the evidence concludes that increasing executions might actually correlate with higher crime.
Even a federal jury in Massachusetts, a liberal bastion, recently doled out the death penalty to the sole surviving perpetrator of the Boston marathon bombing.
The first is empirical: Last August, Governor Rick Perry of Texas lambasted the Syrian government for threatening the safety of its own people.
So, just as it is wrong to over-punish someone executing someone for stealing a pair of shoesit can be wrong to under-punish someone giving him a community service order for murder. Human Rights Council passed a resolution condemning the unjust application of the death penalty worldwide.
No, this is not a list of countries with records of human rights abuses; nor is it a list of countries with ruthless dictators; nor is it a list of countries the United States has condemned at some point within the past few months. Australia withdrew its ambassador to Indonesia after the execution, in April, of two of its nationals for drug trafficking.If the United States is the beacon of freedom and justice that it claims to be, it would abolish the death penalty tomorrow.
Not to mention the unintended consequences that come with any policy, and are not easy to undo when it comes to the death penalty. It is wrong to suggest there is a moral claim for retribution.
The United States is an exception, wrongly persisting with the death penalty. So. There is considerable variation among the state use of the death penalty that seems to have little to do with crime rates.
As of38 states have death penalty statutes; 29 have actually used the death penalty and, among these states, only a handful is responsible for most of the executions. A close analysis of the 43 murderers executed in reveals the true depravity of the crimes and the criminals that merit the death penalty in the United States today.
Does the threat of the death penalty actually deter people from committing heinous crimes to a greater extent than the threat of life imprisonment? The second question is moral. Even if the death penalty deterred crime more successfully than life imprisonment, that doesn’t necessarily mean it would be justified.
Still, the United States is increasingly seen as a global anomaly. It is one of few industrialized nations that still sanction the death penalty. Some argue that this stance erodes the moral authority of the United States. Only Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and China execute more prisoners, according to Amnesty International.Download