By Khin Khin Win
Right to life is first and foremost of all human beings. It is a moral principle, the most fundamental of all rights and the most important for all and is relevant to all human beings Indeed it protects the individual’s ability to take all those actions necessary for the preservation and enjoyment of his life. If you are alive, there is hope for a better day and something good to happen. But in its absence, all other fundamental rights have no reason to exist. Here I would like to brief on Human Rights and Death Penalty.
According to Universal Declaration on Human Rights article (3), everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person. Moreover, according to International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) article 6.1 every human being has the inherent right to life and it also provides that “nothing in this article shall be invoked to delay or to prevent the abolition of capital punishment by any State Party to the present Covenant.”And also the aim of the Second Protocol of ICCPR is the abolition of death penalty. States Parties to the Protocol believe that abolition of the death penalty contributes to enhancement of human dignity and progressive development of human rights (Preamble). And also article 37 (a) of the Convention of the Rights of the Child (CRC) prohibits the death penalty for person under 18 at the time of crime. Death penalty breaches not only right to life but also right to live free from torture. Both rights are protected in Universal Declaration of Human Rights, UDHR adopted in 1948.
Historically, death penalty has been used in almost every part of the world. Currently, the large majority of countries have either abolished or discontinued the practice. Despite some countries still using death penalty, in a last few decades it is generally understood to be human rights violation and this understanding has led to progress in the abolition of the death penalty worldwide.
According to Amnesty International, as of July 2015, 101 countries have abolished the death penalty for all crimes in law, while 140 countries have abolished the death penalty in law or practice. At least 607 executions were carried out worldwide in 2014, a decrease of almost 22% compared to the figures recorded for 2013. Executions were recorded in 22 countries in 2014, the same number as 2013. This is a significant decrease from 20 years ago in 1995, when there were executions in 42 countries, highlighting the clear global trend of states moving away from the death penalty. This information clearly shows that use of the death penalty worldwide has continued to shrink. The reasons why countries have abolished the death penalty in increasing numbers vary. Among them broader understanding of human rights is one of the reasons for some countries.
The UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, has said that death penalty has no place in the 21st century. He called on all states to take concrete steps toward abolishing or stopping this form of punishment. “Together, we can finally end this cruel and inhumane practice everywhere around the world,” he said. However in some conditions, some parts of the world are still using the death penalty in judicial system without considering right to life of human being. Some people still think that the world needs the death penalty having their own reasons. Some people say that if a man has taken a life of another man then he must deserve death. On the other hand, some people do not support death penalty as they think it is not nearly humane at all. Everyone deserves a second chance.
From my perspective, death penalty violates the right not to be subjected to torture and other cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment. Furthermore, it totally violates the right to life which is the most basic of all human rights. Being a human being, I want to totally abolish the death penalty all over the world in the near future. I strongly believe that regardless of age, gender, socio-economic or ethical background, health condition and any other reasons, every human being has the right to life. I am convinced that “worst of the worst is it ever justified to take a life”.
By Khin Khin Win