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I’ve only just begun…

My journey with respect to understanding more about Human Rights issues is really only just beginning. I am awed by the amount of work that is going on through organisations like Amnesty, and government bodies like the Council of Europe to highlight, resolve and prevent travesties in human justice and dignity around the world. It’s a huge and daunting topic; but I suppose this makes me realise how important it is to throw my relatively miniscule effort into the ring too. I don’t believe there can ever be too many people taking up the cause of delivering basic human rights, most urgently in the matter of the death penalty, but in cases of torture too.

Since I started following people on Twitter I’ve had my eyes opened to some abhorrent current practices of which I was only vaguely aware, and which I genuinely thought belonged to another age. Methods of execution in current usage include electrocution, the firing squad or other sorts of shooting, stoning in Islamic countries, the gas chamber, hanging, and lethal injection.

The USA by such extremes is ‘relatively’ humane… if there can be such a thing. See the Death Penalty Information Center’s list of authorised methods of execution by State. However, the question of what constitutes ‘humane’ does not bear a great deal of scrutiny when it comes to it, not on any level. In a later post, I am going to look specifically at what happens when an execution goes wrong…. a topic which has recently been thrown into sharp relief by the sickening events at the scheduled execution by lethal injection of Romell Broom in Ohio.

One of the most appalling stories I have come across in recent readings was this report from Somalia, which featured fairly widely in the press in 2008. A 13-year old girl was buried to her neck and stoned to death after reporting a gang rape at the hands of the al-Shabab militia.

Next step on my journey, then, will be to locate and follow people on Twitter with something of interest to report or add to the debate. I get a bit overwhelmed by the flood of tweets on some regionally-specific tragedies, which I just don’t know much about – like the situation in Iran, where death by stoning is still meted out as a punishment for adultery, where juveniles can be legally put to death, where legal under-representation is commonplace and skewed by any civilised standards, where the parents of a murder victim are permitted to kick away the hanging-stool of a perpetrator, and where the life of a murderer can be spared by offering enough cash to the family of the victim. But I’m glad I’ve decided to pay some more attention to what’s happening in the world around me, and to pass on my learnings to my children, and to anyone else who will listen.

My primary interest will inevitably be what’s happening in the USA; frankly because of my personal involvement due to my correspondence; but also because, well, it seems with all the financial pressure being commentated openly in the US domestic press, that this could be the first of the many remaining retentionist nations to be persuaded to abolish the practice. For a list of who’s abolished, and who retains the Death Penalty as of October 2009 – see here.

For a full Amnesty report on the state of play with the Death Penalty by region in 2008, see here.

November 1, 2009 - Posted by | Amnesty, Europe, Iran, Somalia, stoning

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