Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Prevent rather than perpetuate

MVFHR Executive Director Renny Cushing is a the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) Legislative Summit in Louisville, Kentucky this week, where he's had the opportunity to participate in several criminal justice sessions, to meet with other state legislators specifically about death penalty issues, and to participate in an "issue forum" on "Reexamining the Death Penalty."

Earlier this month, Renny also represented MVFHR at the 12th European Union-Non-Governmental Organization Forum on Human Rights, where one specific area of focus was the EU's role in the worldwide fight against the death penalty. We were interested to see these comments in the paper that the working group on the death penalty prepared before the meeting:

The assumption that survivors of murder victims are commonly in favour of capital punishment may not hold up in reality. In many instances all around the world, family members of murder victims have expressed their respect and love for the victim while maintaining an anti-death penalty stance on grounds that the response to one violation should not be another, and that the better way to honour victims is by preventing violence rather than by perpetuating it. In any case, killing the murderer cannot bring the victim back to life or undo the suffering that friends and family have suffered from the crime. Not only that, but the use of the death penalty further compounds human suffering, not only of the person to be executed, but of his or her friends and family while the convicted person waits on ‘death row’ and after the execution as well.

And this resounding summary comment:

The EU considers that abolition of the death penalty contributes to the enhancement of human dignity and the progressive development of human rights and it opposes the use of the death penalty in all circumstances. The EU considers the death penalty to be cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment that fails to deter criminal behaviour, and as such it represents an unacceptable denial of human dignity and integrity.

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