The most damning case against the death penalty is that it is an infringement on the most fundamental of all human rights – the right to life. A death penalty is imposed in the name of the state. But does the state actually have the right to deprive a person of his or her life? It could be a dangerous proposition even to believe so. Hitler’s Germany believed in the absolute right of the state. The consequences mark a very dark period in the history of humankind. Are we tempting fate again by according the state the right to impose and execute the death penalty?
In the December 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, nations of the world came together to ensure the fundamental rights of every person. These human rights were not subject to the will of the state, but were declared to be inherent in every human being. It was not the state’s prerogative to grant or withdraw the human rights. The fundamental human rights therefore put limitations on what a state may do to a person. The Universal declaration recognizes each person’s right to life.
The death penalty is therefore a fragrant violation of human rights. Human rights preserve the dignity of the individual. There can be no justification inhuman and cruel treatment and punishment that degrades the essence of humanity. The death penalty inflicts the most severe kind of mental and physical torture not only on the condemned, but also on al those who are related to the condemned. Every member of the society also has to own responsibility as a constituent unit of the state.