Views from Fiona: The Death Penalty
On December 13, 2005, Stanley Tookie Williams was executed via lethal injection amidst debate over the death penalty.

Views from Fiona: The Death Penalty


"Should we take the life we did not create?" As many of has recover from the execution of Stanley Tookie Williams, Fiona offers her piece of mind on the death penalty.

By Fiona Abaasa
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First published: December 16, 2005


Capital punishment has been used all over the world and although, with time, some countries have abolished or suspended the use of death penalty others still embrace it. The hanging of Nguyen Tuong Van 25, a Thailand-born Vietnamese Australian national in Singapore has awakened the cry for those against the use of death penalty. Nguyen, who was hanged on Friday 2nd December at Changi Prison in Singapore, was caught with 400g of heroin three years ago at Changi airport in transit from Cambodia to Australia. It is known that Singapore has harsh laws against trafficking so the pleas of human rights groups, Australians, and Nguyen’s lawyers fell on deaf ears. They had reasoned that he had had no criminal record but this all was to no avail until he was hanged.


Nguyen who arrived in Melbourne at the age of two as a Vietnamese refugee was caught with 400g of heroin by the Singapore authorities at Changi airport while in transit. Two Australian nationals in Vietnam, and one in China, are also waiting to be executed for drug trafficking offences. In Indonesia, nine Australians who were caught in Bali with drugs and could be executed if convicted.

Nguyen, who would later be laid to rest in Melbourne on Wednesday 9th December, should serve as the rude awakening call for countries still using the death penalty, to rescind their decisions. The Australian Prime Minister John Howard says they will not lobby against the use of death penalty in south Asia. “I think we have to be realistic about what can be achieved,” Howard said in an interview.

The morality of the death penalty should be dealt with because why should we take the life we did not create? Is it right to deny someone the right to live for the crimes they may have committed? Society is full of rapists, drug trafficker, murderers and those who massacred people in war but should we execute them? That is the million-dollar question! Ghandi’s saying, “An eye for an eye would make the whole world blind,” should serve as a reminder.

So far the United States has hanged its 1,000th person since the death penalty was reinstated but some states have repealed the use of death penalty while others still use it. In the state of Illinois, the governor recently commuted the death sentence of 167 death row prisoners to life imprisonment and this caused havoc, but he stood firm saying sometimes there are mistakes made in arrests and innocent people maybe killed.

Uganda is among the countries that still embrace the use of the death penalty although it has not been used as often in recent times. The president uses his prerogative of mercy to set free death row prisoners. Nassur, a former hench man of late president Idi Amin, benefited from this. But the government looks like it does not intend to remove the use of death penalty. I talked to Andrew Kamparuza, an advocate with Akampurira and Company Advocates who told me that in the legal fraternity they are divided about it and that the few human rights groups have not lobbied for its removal though they are against it.

According to Amnesty International 76 countries/territories have stopped the death penalty completely, 14 countries have stopped it except for wartime crimes committed and 20 countries can be considered abolitionist in practice. Amnesty International further reports in 2000, 1,457 prisoners were executed in 28 countries, 3,058 were sentenced to death in 65 countries and these are only the known cases. The breakdown shows that 88% of the executions took place in Iran, Saudi Arabia and the US.

Whether it is using the gas chamber, lethal injection, hangman’s noose, firing squad or the guillotine, it is the action of condemning someone to death. However fast it may be done, as civilized nations and people, we should not take life.

By Fiona Abaasa
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First published: December 16, 2005
Fiona Abaasa is a visitor of UGPulse.com.

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