08.12.2000 | V. Pocheptsov, the village of Domantiv

Court and punishment, justice and mercy - it is all for God, not for us


The referendum, among others, puts the question of the capital punishment. It is obvious that the answers will vary. The decision of the Supreme Rada to cancel the death penalty has recently been confirmed by the Constitutional Court. This solution was, perhaps, the most far-sighted of all adopted in Ukraine. Certainly, many people will try to earn some political capital by airing their views on this problem.

The interest to the problem is evident. Which right can pretend for greater attention than the right for life? International instruments signed by the representatives of the USSR were approved as long ago as 10 December 1948. The document was signed by O. Vyshinskiy, the General Prosecutor of the USSR. This very Vyshinskiy, who was responsible for the famines of 1933 and 1947, for the GULAG. The Declaration of human rights asserts: ’Every human being has the right for life, for freedom and for the personal inviolability’. Having signed the document, the leaders of the Soviet Union were abusing this agreement every day. Millions of the convicted to death ’by the simplified court procedure’, or just without any verdict, made those who remained alive the obedient tool of building communism. Vyshinskiy and his colleagues certainly did not intend to abolish the death penalty.

In 1986 the USSR supported the International Pact on civil and political rights. It read: ’Nobody may lose his life without reason’. Nonetheless, death penalties were ruled even by telephone messages from the Kremlin, where the headquarters of ’honor and consciousness of our epoch’ was located. In those years few people doubted the justice of the party and state. The majority did not know about the signed and supported documents, since they were forbidden to be printed.

The civil society, when fulfilling these decisions, puts under control the executions after the simplified court procedure or without any procedure.

Those who oppose the abolition of the death penalty reason that serial murderers should not be left alive. The former also refer to the absence of the article on incarceration for life. I want to remind people that even in fairytales, myths and legends the evil demon penetrates into the murderer’s soul. But you will kill not the demon, you will kill a human being.

Some of the opponents of the abolition of the death penalty cynically refer to God’s Commandments. First, one must not snatch quotations from the text and, secondly, to interpret the Holy Scriptures is permitted only to clerics. Father Victor from Kharkiv says that the injured soul must turn to a priest, to a physician or to a psychologist. Jesus Christ taught to hate sins, not sinners. Court and punishment, justice and mercy - all of them belong to God. One of my opponents writes that he likes the American democracy where a deadly injection is made to the murderer with the victim’s relatives present. It reminds shoo ting for transportation without a ticket that was practiced in Germany under Hitler. ’Pardon them, Father, for they do not know what they are doing’.

In Ukraine, like in the rest of the modern world, the negative attitude to the death penalty is spreading. More than 80 countries of the world do not apply the capital punishment. There are many arguments against the death penalty. Here are the most important of them:

First of all, the state has no right to take human life, because it was not the state who gave it. If a state keeps the death penalty, the society becomes more cruel.

Secondly, the abolishment of the death penalty, as confirmed by the experience of other countries, does not increase the crime rate. So, in the Great Britain they temporarily abolished the death penalty for murder in 1965. During next five years the dynamics of murders did not change. Recently the Parliament has cancelled the death penalty forever.

The last, but not least, this is the threat of a court mistake or moving away of eyewitnesses, which leads to condemning innocent people. How many innocents have been executed as serial murderers. Court mistakes are inevitable, however, perfect are the judicial procedures. For instance, from 1900 to 1985 in the USA were executed 25 innocent people. Courts in Ukraine used to rule out more than 200 capital punishments per year.

Everybody must choose his place in this life and guard his soul. May anyone kill another living person?

PL commentary. The Council of Europe plans to make amendments in Protocol 6 to the European Convention of human rights and freedoms: to ban the death penalty for military crimes. On adopting these amendments the abolishment of the death penalty in the crime justice of member-countries of the Council of Europe will become absolute - the death penalty will be not applied for any crime at all.

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