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The death penalty question…timely!

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Fri, Jul 15, 2011

Editor: The recent occurrence of four murders in our country within a 12-day period is cause for concern. Clearly, there are a few individuals who by their actions – maliciously and intentionally taking a person’s life, show that they do not value the God-given Right to Life of their fellowmen.{{more}} They seem to think that the only way to ‘settle’ their disputes is through weapons like the gun and the cutlass. These days the murderers tend to be getting bolder. They evidently show that they have very little or no concern for the consequences of their callous actions. Truly, just going to jail is not a sufficient deterrent for them! After all, they only spend some time in prison (getting fat off tax payers hard-earned money), and then they return to one community and lead a ‘normal’ life. So what about justice in the eyes of God and for the victim’s family? Doesn’t the murderer’s very act show that he has forfeited his right to live?

Sadly, the unjust, flaw-filled arguments put forward by those who oppose the death penalty seem to hold sway worldwide. Indeed, the heart of man is waxing colder and colder and ‘justice standeth afar off’. So, though the death penalty remains on our law books here in SVG, the execution thereof is often hindered. When was the last time capital punishment was given to a guilty murderer? Haven’t we had gruesome murders (e.g. sawing off of Stacia’s neck at the Leeward bus terminal in Kingstown) since the last execution ‘donkey’ years ago? Is the justice system more lenient on criminals these days?

Is there no genuine respect for the God-endowed inalienable right to life?

Those who have the authority to act in having the death penalty enforced should act quickly and wisely. Let the murderous criminals know that their actions are hated by society and that they have proven themselves unfit to live among us. Here, I agree with Thomas Aquinas (1224), a philosopher and theologian of the Roman Catholic Church, when he outlines the duty of leaders: “The civil rulers execute justly and sinlessly, pestiferous men in order to protect the peace of the state.”

Moreover, for maliciously taking the life of another, the All wise Creator-God of humanity has given the following instructions, ‘whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man’ …but if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain; for he is a minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.’ (Gen. 9:6; Rom.13:4).

Unlike what some persons may think, the death penalty/capital punishment is divinely designed to deter potential murders and therefore to make society a safer, justice-loving and happier place. ‘…And those which remain shall hear and FEAR and shall henceforth commit no more any such evil among you.’ Deut. 19: 11-21

Ann-Marie Ballantyne
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