Repent, Rehabilitate, Kill

To be completely honest, my views on capital punishment have wavered over time. Until recently I wasn’t opposed to certain means of execution like the lethal injection, but after some research, I’ve changed my mind.

To give you the general idea there are six different variations of the death penalty:

  1. Lethal injection (in US, China and Vietnam).
  2. Hanging (in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Botswana, India, Iran, Iraq, Japan, Kuwait, Malaysia, Nigeria, Palestinian Authority, South Sudan, Sudan).
  3. Firing Squad (in China, Indonesia, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Taiwan, Yemen).
  4. Beheading (in Saudi Arabia).
  5. Electrocution (in US).
  6. Gas Chamber (in US).

The seemingly most humane option, the lethal injection, can actually cause the most pain and take the most time. In January 2014 in Ohio, Denis McGuire was the first to trial a new drug combination. He was strapped to a bed where he gasped for breath, and writhed in agony for 26 minutes, while his children watched on the sidelines. After being fully traumatised by this story, I dug a little deeper and found that seven hundred and thirteen people were executed in 2013.

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For Australians the death penalty is foreign concept. The last person who was executed here was Ronald Ryan in 1965 for murdering a policemen. Since then the maximum punishment handed down has been life imprisonment. This process makes sense to me – forcing a person live with their guilt for 25 years seems sufficient. Sure, some are devoid of remorse, but at least they’re rotting behind bars and not dining in our local cafes.

In the past few weeks Australia has been combatting this sensitive issue as a result of the impending execution of the Bali Nine leaders Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran. Having taken intro to International Relations, I fully understand the importance of State Sovereignty; each nation must do what is necessary to protect its citizens. However, it is also the responsibility of the United Nations to determine whether or not fundamental human rights are being safeguarded. On the 15 November 2007 the United Nations established a moratorium on the death penalty. It stipulates that State’s should restrict the use of the death penalty, with the intention of future abolition. Sadly, like all General Assembly resolutions, they are merely recommendations and Indonesia is exhibiting no signs of adopting this policy.

With 4.5 million citizens addicted to drugs and more than 50 fatal overdoses each day, Indonesia’s strict stance on drug trafficking is completely understandable. But the reality is drug addiction will continue with or without these two men. Since their arrest a decade ago the pair have made several attempts to rehabilitate themselves, other inmates and the Indonesian community. So, why now? Their efforts could continue, but apparently time is up.

Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran rehabilitated themslves and repented, only to be shot at the end. It’s cruel, barbaric and outdated. It’s now 2015 and quite frankly it’s embarrassing that such archaic practises are still in play.


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