Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Keep CounterPunch ad free. Support our annual fund drive today!

The Inhuman Death Penalty Must End


The fact that the death penalty is still enforced in a world in which there is increasing access to freedoms – such an important part of life – and in which a democratic perspective is now dominant, is one of the most terrible marks of shame facing mankind. No matter what their crime may be, sentencing someone to death is an unacceptably cruel and primitive. Punishment exists to discipline people, and the aim in present-day sentencing policy is to reform and reintroduce that person into society, but any possibility of that is removed when they are sent off to be killed.

The right to life is the most basic right, and is possessed from the moment of birth. Indeed, without the right to life, all other rights and freedoms are meaningless. The death penalty is the most terrifying violation of this right, enshrined in international agreements and declarations.

Those in favor of the death penalty maintain that it is the most effective way of deterring serious crimes and that it is essential for the state to discharge its duty to protect the social order. However, the state’s right to punish does not include putting an end to life.

The death penalty is a crude and simplistic means of revenge devoid of any humanity or rationality. The state and the law cannot act out of feelings of revenge. The responsibility of the state is to protect the life of all, without exception.

The only Western country in which the death penalty is enforced is the USA, with 38 out of 50 states keeping it in their statutes. There are some 24,000 people currently waiting their turn to be executed in the country. It is astonishing that the USA, which regards itself as the greatest advocate of human rights and liberties and accuses other countries of human rights violations, engages in such an inhuman practice before the eyes of the world and is not subjected to adequate condemnation in that respect. Condemnations within the USA are not enough either; both public opinion and the government and the media are largely in favor of the death penalty.

It is also a fact that the justice and legal system – being operated by human beings – will increase the likelihood of judicial error. Human beings are of course prone to make mistakes; the slightest judicial error could result in the death of an innocent person and that also constitutes a grave error in terms of human rights violations. The death penalty is an irreversible punishment. Many people are known to have been executed in error or on political grounds. It has subsequently emerged that innocent people have been unjustly executed due to errors in police procedures, thus making a proper defense impossible. One hundred forty-six people on death row have subsequently been found innocent and released in the last 40 years.

Another disgraceful state of affairs in terms of violations of human rights in the U.S. is sentencing mentally ill people to death. Although this violates international law, federal courts still sentence mentally unbalanced people to death. In addition, the fact that racism is an unfortunate fact of life within the judicial system makes the U.S. one of the leading countries in terms of human rights violations. African Americans, Asians and Hispanics frequently complain of being subjected to racist attacks and deprived of their basic citizenship rights. African American citizens and people of other ethnic origins say they are invariably regarded as potential criminals and are subjected to mistreatment. The number of African American citizens and citizens of other ethnicities sentenced and held in U.S. jails is much higher than that of whites.

Another human rights violation in America is that poor people are more often sentenced to death. As confirmed by the Supreme Court, a defendant with a good defense team in court can usually escape the death penalty; however, a good defense team costs a great deal of money, and if a defendant is poor, he or she has no access to such counsel.

History has witnessed numerous savage punishments that have gone down as crimes against humanity. That includes numerous dark deeds, such as female children being buried alive and the courts of the Inquisition. Another example is the way in which torture was a legally permissible practice for much of history, but is now regarded as a crime in almost the entire world. The death penalty is another such outmoded punishment that needs to be abolished. It is enough to isolate a criminal from society in a prison cell. All countries that still enforce capital punishment therefore need to adopt a civilized and humane approach and alter their legal systems so that the most severe penalty becomes life imprisonment. That is a basic precondition for being a state of law.

There is no doubt that countries such as China and the USA and all other countries that still impose capital punishment would lose nothing by bringing their sentencing systems in line with humanity and good conscience by abandoning the harsh policies they have exhibited to date, and they would benefit greatly from it. Capital punishment deprives people of their most basic right, the right to life, and therefore free will and honor. When a person is deprived of the right to life, when his free will and honor are taken away in other words, the good name of the state is also damaged. The countries in question will regain their honor and enjoy respect in the eyes of the world when they put an end to the inhuman practice of capital punishment.

Adnan Oktar has authored more than 300 books translated into 73 languages on politics, religion and science. He lives in Turkey.

More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine


Weekend Edition
October 28, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Louis Proyect
The Outsider-Insider: Isaac Babel’s Big Mistake
Martin Billheimer
Now and Then, Ancient Sorceries
October 27, 2016
Paul Street
An Identity-Politicized Election and World Series Lakefront Liberals Can Love
Matthew Stevenson
Sex and the Presidential City
Jim Kavanagh
Tom Hayden’s Haunting
CJ Hopkins
The Pathologization of Dissent
Mike Merryman-Lotze
The Inherent Violence of Israel’s Gaza Blockade
Robert Fisk
Is Yemen Too Much for the World to Take?
Shamus Cooke
Stopping Hillary’s Coming War on Syria
Jan Oberg
Security Politics and the Closing of the Open Society
Ramzy Baroud
The War on UNESCO: Al-Aqsa Mosque is Palestinian and East Jerusalem is Illegally Occupied
Colin Todhunter
Lower Yields and Agropoisons: What is the Point of GM Mustard in India?
Norman Pollack
The Election: Does It Matter Who Wins?
Nyla Ali Khan
The Political and Cultural Richness of Kashmiriyat
Barbara Nimri Aziz
“It’s Only a Car!”
October 26, 2016
John W. Whitehead
A Deep State of Mind: America’s Shadow Government and Its Silent Coup
Eric Draitser
Dear Liberals: Trump is Right
Anthony Tarrant
On the Unbearable Lightness of Whiteness
Mark Weisbrot
The Most Dangerous Place in the World: US Pours in Money, as Blood Flows in Honduras
Chris Welzenbach
The Establishment and the Chattering Hack: a Response to Nicholas Lemann
Luke O'Brien
The Churchill Thing: Some Big Words About Trump and Some Other Chap
Sabia Rigby
In the “Jungle:” Report from the Refugee Camp in Calais, France
Linn Washington Jr.
Pot Decriminalization Yields $9-million in Savings for Philadelphia
Pepe Escobar
“America has lost” in the Philippines
Pauline Murphy
Political Feminism: the Legacy of Victoria Woodhull
Lizzie Maldonado
The Burdens of World War III
David Swanson
Slavery Was Abolished
Thomas Mountain
Preventing Cultural Genocide with the Mother Tongue Policy in Eritrea
Colin Todhunter
Agrochemicals And The Cesspool Of Corruption: Dr. Mason Writes To The US EPA
October 25, 2016
David Swanson
Halloween Is Coming, Vladimir Putin Isn’t
Hiroyuki Hamada
Fear Laundering: an Elaborate Psychological Diversion and Bid for Power
Priti Gulati Cox
President Obama: Before the Empire Falls, Free Leonard Peltier and Mumia Abu-Jamal
Kathy Deacon
Plus ça Change: Regime Change 1917-1920
Robin Goodman
Appetite for Destruction: America’s War Against Itself
Richard Moser
On Power, Privilege, and Passage: a Letter to My Nephew
Rev. William Alberts
The Epicenter of the Moral Universe is Our Common Humanity, Not Religion
Dan Bacher
Inspector General says Reclamation Wasted $32.2 Million on Klamath irrigators
David Mattson
A Recipe for Killing: the “Trust Us” Argument of State Grizzly Bear Managers
Derek Royden
The Tragedy in Yemen
Ralph Nader
Breaking Through Power: It’s Easier Than We Think
Norman Pollack
Centrist Fascism: Lurching Forward
Guillermo R. Gil
Cell to Cell Communication: On How to Become Governor of Puerto Rico
Mateo Pimentel
You, Me, and the Trolley Make Three
Cathy Breen
“Today Is One of the Heaviest Days of My Life”
October 24, 2016
John Steppling
The Unwoke: Sleepwalking into the Nightmare