Moving Away from the Death Penalty

Arguments, Trends and Perspectives

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Capital punishment is irrevocable. It prohibits the correction of mistakes by the justice system and leaves no room for human error, with the gravest of consequences. There is no evidence of a deterrent effect of the death penalty. Those sacrificed on the altar of retributive justice are almost always the most vulnerable. This book covers a wide range of topics, from the discriminatory application of the death penalty, wrongful convictions, proven lack of deterrence effect, to legality of the capital punishment under international law and the morality of taking of human life.




This chapter, which focuses on values, contains articles by a Catholic nun who works with prisoners on death row, two authors active in both civil society and politics and two experts in human rights. Sister Helen demonstrates the fruitlessness of the death penalty from the perspective of the healing process for family members of the victims. Marazziti finds arguments against the death penalty in the world’s religions, while Bhatti warns of its social and political dangers. Rodley describes the evolution of Human Rights Committee’s jurisprudence on the death penalty, while Heyns focuses on the right to life and the way that the UN and regional bodies increasingly interpret it to reduce the scope of the death penalty.


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