When the then United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan was presented with a petition containing 3. 2 million signatures from 146 countries for a worldwide moratorium on the death sentence, he had commented: “The forfeiture of life is too absolute, too irreversible, for one human being to inflict it on another, even when backed by legal process. And I believe that future generations, throughout the world, will come to agree. ” (Gettings) The words of the former UN Secretary General were in fact an echo of the sentiments of the millions of signatories to the petition that was presented to him.
The death sentence strikes at the core of human sensitivity and sensibility. The world is divided into almost two equal camps – one passionately in support and the other equally passionately against this extreme measure of censure in human history. Forty-seven percent Americans support the death penalty, while 48% would rather prefer life without payrole (Death Penalty Information Centre). Both the camps present practical, logical and convincing arguments favoring their stand. Those who are against the death penalty believe that this extreme measure has minimum deterrent effect, violates the most fundamental of human rights, i.
e. the right to life, is completely out of sync with civilized society and should be abolished outright and forthwith. Those who support the death penalty, on the other hand, do so because they hold that it acts as a major deterrent to heinous crimes, crimes committed by criminals who, according to them, not only do not deserve a place in society, but also lose the right to life. They have to die so that any chance of them repeating their crime and adding others to their list of victims is eliminated forever. The state, it is reasoned, takes the life to accord protection to future victims of the convicted.
An objective analysis of the arguments for and against the death penalty however can only lead to the inevitable conclusion that the death penalty has no place in civilized society. Two very undeniable and universal facts override all arguments in support of the death penalty: the fundamental human right to life along with all its critical implications to the individual and to society, and the irrevocability and finality of the death sentence that takes away all probability of redemption or reconsideration at the face of the human nature to err.