REVIVING DEATH PENALTY
Anything that could compel anyone through some threats is called “sword of Damocles.” Senator Tito Sotto called death penalty “sword of God” in reference to the issue of reviving capital punishment for drug offenders. Accordingly, there are a lot of crimes attributed to drug abuse, hence the use of sword of God if only to check the increment of offenses.
There must be other compelling reasons however why drug abuse or violation of drugs law must merit considerable legislative anger to the extent that a prescription penalty on death is to be enjoined. Criminality as an issue must however be secondary. True, there are crimes committed by those under influence of drugs. But there are more crimes committed by those under the influence of liquor. True, drug abuse kills a user. Recent Hollywood talents from David Carradine, Whitney Houston and recently Philip Seymour Hoffman prove the apprehension correctly. But there are more deaths attributed to smoking.
Then, if the equation calls for a restriction on use because of the consequent effects, legislators should go further. Let us ban drugs, liquors and tobacco once and for all. It’s use must be prohibited and consequently its violation must carry the punishment by a death squad.
As it were, it is not enough to profess on something while distinguishing others equally liable. It is unfair to attribute something grave on something while ignoring or pretending not to mind others similarly culpable.
If it is drug abuse and its consequent criminal effects that are being studied, the Scandinavian approach may be instructive. In those countries, they have reduced drug abuse crimes to zero. No, they have not sent to the gallows the offenders one after another. They merely announced to drug users that it is safer, cheaper to procure drugs in government hospitals where they have a special camp for users until they kick the habits out of boredom.
If the issue is a cover just to introduce death penalty, then it is another story altogether. There should be another paradigm to submit which must be based on reason. It is not necessary to pursue the judicial move or legislative act just because it is purportedly a social response. Question on its relevance must be addressed. Like for instance, “Is it politically expedient to introduce death penalty?” Will it lead to some expression of control which might lead to autocratic and totalitarian gesture? Will it advance peace and order notwithstanding our desired international posturing on human rights?
There are countries in Asia which never dropped Death Penalty as a judicially prescribed penalty. China, Indonesia, Singapore to name a few never even bothered to amend their basic law to accommodate a change in their legal prescriptions in dealing with heinous crimes. It is there as a symbol of an efficient criminal justice administration.
As a matter of course, death penalty is a measure that projects the maturity of a State’s functional criminal justice system. This is something we must reflect before we even go the extent of exploring its revival.