As political parties and families of the victims of Mumbai terror attack – 26/11 welcomed the hanging of Kasab, the human rights groups in India and abroad have criticised the government for the execution even as over 97 countries world over have abolished death sentences.
At the same time the HR groups made it clear that they sympathise with the families of the victims of the terror attack but oppose the State to officially and legally kill a person by the most cruel method of hanging.
Human Rights Watch South-Asia Director Meenakshi Ganguly, in a statement, said Kasab’s killing marked a concerning end to the country’s moratorium on capital punishment. “Instead of resorting to the use of execution to address heinous crime, India should join the rising ranks of nations that have taken the decision to remove the death penalty from their legal frameworks,” she said.
Media reports quoted another international HR organisation – Amnesty International – of stating that by hanging Kasab, India had taken a significant step backwards and joined that minority of countries that were still executing.
Kasab’s lawyer and family in Pakistan were not informed of the imminent execution in violation of international standards on the use of the death penalty. “We recognise the gravity of the crimes for which Kasab was convicted and sympathise with the victims of these acts and their families but the death penalty is the ultimate cruel and inhuman form of punishment”, the HR organisation said.
The resumption of executions in India comes two days after the UN General Assembly’s human rights committee adopted a draft resolution calling for a global moratorium on the death penalty, Amnesty said adding that it opposed the death penalty as it violated the right to life as proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
CSF: The Catholic Christian Secular Forum general secretary Joseph Dias said though he welcomed the hanging of Kasab, there was a need for “re-visiting death penalty in the country as a punishment. It is merely a coincidence that a day before Kasab was hanged, India was among the 39 countries to vote for death penalty at the UN General Assembly calling for its abolition. It was heartening though that a record number of 110 countries voted against capital punishment, while 36 countries abstained from the vote, which is what India should have done “.
According to the United Nations, about 150 countries have either abolished capital punishment or have instituted a moratorium. “India should also consider a moratorium against all death penalties pending a studied re-look at capital punishment, given the world's experience in its efficacy and other methods being available to achieve similar ends. It should be a possibility only in the rarest of rare cases “, he concluded.
The CSF was opposed to death penalty as the right to life was the most basic right and hence it was morally and ethically wrong to deliberately take it away. Rigorous life imprisonment was an alternative to be explored as maximum punishment.
Religious groups’ stand
“Almost all religious groups would disfavour death penalty, especially since most believers hold that God gives life and it is not for us to take it away. Most would believe in forgiveness”.
The CSF felt that death penalty might not necessarily heal the wounds of the victims or their families, rather it might hurt them more depending on their view of life and the delayed justice delivery system.
Scientific studies had consistently failed to demonstrate that executions deter people from committing crime anymore than life prison sentences, the CSF added.