Sunday, November 05, 2006

On Saddam's death sentence

I have always found capital punishment to be utterly repugnant. The idea that the state can have a right to take life feels like an abdication of the moral high ground and comes down to legalised killing. It is not done for defence but rather for vengeance, to sate a blood lust.

There can be no exceptions to such a position. Whatever Saddam Hussein has done, sentencing him to death is a state taking action to kill. It is declaring that people are potentially beyond redemption. That there is no hope in the world.


Anonymous said...

There's all sorts of legalised killing that goes on, for example in war time.

A death sentence was the only realistic possible outcome here. It's all very well for you to talk about the moral high ground from your comfy chair. But justice needs to be seen to be done as well as done. The overwhelming majority of the survivors of his crimes simply will not feel any sense of justice without his execution. You can decry that state of affairs but it doesn't change it.

Furthermore, keeping him alive would be a nightmare in itself. There woudl be the simmering resentment amongst all the victims. The nature and extent of his crimes mean he could never be released back into the community without bloodshed - even if he 'proved' his redemption to some court or panel. If he can never be released it's kinder to him too, to just hang him.

Tim Roll-Pickering said...

One could make the same point about the victims of many horrific crimes. It doesn't in itself make it right to execute a person. Whatever the circumstances of the crime in question, coldly taking life can never be an acceptable punishment. There can be no exception to this (killing in war is different as an action of defence). It is the state sanctioning the taking of life.

A case like Hussein's will always be one of the hardest to defend, where there will be many compelling arguments made for execution. But it is a very such case where such executions should be opposed, otherwise no line of opposition can be credibly drawn. If one holds that capital punishment is always wrong then it is always wrong. I make no apology for holding that opinion. I don't doubt that things may be easier if Husseing were to be killed. But that just doesn't make it acceptable.

(And this chair is hardly comfy!)

Sir-C4' said...

I have to agree with Tim. Killing Saddam makes present Iraqi society no better than the Butcher of Baghdaa himself. Furthermore, as Ming Campbell pointed out on Radio Four's The World This Weekend yesterday, killing Saddam would only make him a martyr and martyr can never be silenced. I also disagree will William Hague's comment about Saddam begin more dangerous alive than dead. For all his bravardo, Saddam is a political has-been, a pathetic figure who has blundered his way from one disaster to another.

Let the man rot in jail, denying his ego the satisfaction of martyrdom!

Paul Burgin said...

I agree in that, executing Saddam Hussein would make him a martyr. Lifelong imprisonment perhaps!


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