A solidarity statement signed by over 300 concerned citizens said the death penalty did not belong in a humane society and was mainly inflicted on the poor and marginalised in an arbitrary and unfair manner. Being irreversible, it cannot be part of a system that was not error-free, it added.

The full text of the statement is as follows: “The death penalty is a cruel and barbaric punishment. It inflicts inhuman suffering on the condemned and his family, while doing nothing to alleviate the loss and suffering of the victims of crime.

“The death penalty serves no purpose. Studies have shown that the death penalty does not deter murder or protect society any more than life imprisonment.

“The death penalty is inflicted in an arbitrary, inconsistent and unfair manner. It targets the poor, the marginalised and the oppressed, and depends more on the personal predilections of the decision maker than on the facts of the case.

“The death penalty is irreversible and cannot be part of a system that is not error-free. Courts have repeatedly acknowledged that the death penalty has been wrongly inflicted in a large number of cases, in two of which the condemned prisoners have already been executed.

“More than 70% of the world’s nations (about 150 out of 198) are abolitionist in law or practice, including most of Europe, Africa, South America and the Pacific Region, and each year the number is increasing. Many countries with lower human development indices and higher murder rates than India eschew the death penalty. India, however, still lingers in the company of authoritarian regimes that execute people in violation of international standards. The time to set this right is long overdue.

“We resolve to work for the abolition of the death penalty in our respective domains of action and influence. We appeal to all concerned citizens to join this cause.”

Dangerous moral reasoning: Sen

Mr. Sen, who said he did not sign joint statements as a general rule, released a separate statement: “I am delighted to see the solidarity statement in opposition to the death penalty. Since I have been committed to the abolition of the death penalty throughout my life, I am very happy to add my voice to those of others who want the repeal of this terrible legal provision.”

Noting that the solidarity statement captured four of the main arguments for abolition, he said a fifth argument could be added: “any attempt to remedy the harm done by the taking of one life through taking another life encourages bad – indeed dangerous – moral reasoning. The approach of death penalty is foundationally misconceived.”



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