Thursday, 22 September 2011

Troy Davis and the Isle of Wight

Last night, at 11:00 p.m. local time, Troy Davis was executed in the US state of Georgia for the fatal shooting of policeman Mark MacPhail in 1989.

Mr. Davis remained defiant at the end, according to reporters who witnessed his death. He looked directly at the members of the family of Mark MacPhail, the officer he was convicted of killing, and told them they had the wrong man.

“I did not personally kill your son, father, brother,” he said. “All I can ask is that you look deeper into this case so you really can finally see the truth.”

Here on the Isle of Wight our local MP, Andrew Turner, is an enthusiastic supporter of a return of capital punishment. The death penalty was effectively abolished in the UK in 1965 the last executions being in 1964, Peter Anthony Allen, at Walton Prison in Liverpool, and Gwynne Owen Evans, at Strangeways Prison in Manchester, were executed for the murder of John Alan West on 7 April that year.

The UK is a signatory to the European Convention on Human Rights, Protocol 13 of which provides for the total abolition of the death penalty. As of May 2011 the majority of the Council of Europe has ratified Protocol 13. Latvia, Poland and Armenia have signed but not ratified the protocol, whilst Russia and Azerbaijan have not signed it.

Mr Turner said he was backing a petition by right-wing political blogger Paul Staines - who writes the Guido Fawkes blog - for a review into "all treaties and international commitments which may inhibit the ability of Parliament to restore capital punishment".

Of the 194 independent states that are UN members (or have UN observer status):

42 (22%) maintain the death penalty in both law and practice.

95 (49%) have abolished it.

8 (4%) retain it for crimes committed in exceptional circumstances (such as in time of war).

49 (25%) permit its use for ordinary crimes, but have not used it for at least 10 years and are believed to have a policy or established practice of not carrying out executions, or it is under a moratorium.

The information above is accurate as of 14 Feb 2011 when Gabon announced the abolition of capital punishment.

The worst countries for the number of executions they perpetrate are (or were*) the likes of China, 2000+ in 2010, Iran, Gaddafi's Libya*, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Yemen, the only country in Europe still executing, Belarus (only 2), oh yes, and the United State of America - nice company to keep!

As a Buddhist the killing of any being is anathema to me. I personally have always found the rationale, "that to kill is wrong therefore if you kill we will kill you" totally spurious.

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