Sunday, December 04, 2005

Capital Punishment

THE effect of the illegal drugs trade on modern society is widespread, evil and totally uncaring.
Anyone caught up in its desperate race deserves the support and care of everyone if its scourge is to be removed from entire communities.
Those who peddle its misery deserve to bear society's opprobrium, for these people surely must know the effect of what they are doing purely for financial gain.
The debate raging throughout the media around Australia this week about the fate of Van Nguyen, however, is not about whether he deserved to be punished for carrying heroin into Singapore. Most agree, indeed, he must be punished.
It centres around whether or not any government should have the right to kill people in the state's name. Quite clearly, it is still a divisive issue, even in Australia where the death penalty was abolished by the Federal Government in 1973.
Those advocating a ban on capital punishment this week were not advocating that Van Nguyen should walk free from Changi Prison. He broke the law and he deserved to be punished.
Those countries which have abolished capital punishment, however, have already recognised it as a cruel and inhuman punishment, one that does nothing to prevent further crime being committed, and one that can lead to awful mistakes.
Van Nguyen's case has divided Australian public opinion and focused what may be an unprecedented international spotlight on Singapore's death penalty regime.
As more than 380 towns and cities around the world joined forces yesterday to condemn the death penalty, Van Nguyen's mother Kim made preparations to bring her son's body home for burial in Australia.
Watching footage of this woman being forced to leave the prison for the last time the night before her son was hanged will haunt Australians, much as the deaths of Kevin Barlow and Brian Chambers did 19 years ago when they were hanged in Malaysia.
It also drove home the point that capital punishment - far from bringing about the end of the drugs trade - supports a culture of death instead of fighting it, while putting the state on the same level as those who kill.
Every person has the power to redeem themselves - the death penalty, in fact any kind of killing, makes a mockery of that unique human ability.

till next time, Michelle.

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