Should the death sentence be abolished or maintained for certain crimes?

Image from NST

By John Isaac

In recent times, there has been plenty of debate and mixed opinions as to whether the death penalty should be abolished in our country.

Several NGOs have been pushing strongly for this and the government has since agreed to it.

However, there are those who still strongly feel that the death sentence should be maintained for certain offences.

The Retired Senior Police Officers Association of Malaysia (Respa) for one, said it supports the stand of families of murdered victims who want the death sentence to remain.

Its president Tan Sri Ismail Che Rus said that no crime should go unpunished, whatever the degree of punishment.

“In respect of the death penalty, the sentence should depend on the severity and circumstances of the crime.

“We support the stand of families of murdered victims that the death sentence should remain while also supporting the views of cross-sections of the public that the death penalty should be reserved for serious crimes so that justice will truly be served,” he said.

The association also feels that those currently on death row can have their sentences commuted to life imprisonment after due and careful evaluation of their sentences, taking into consideration that they have truly repented, he added.

“For drug trafficking cases under the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952, there are instances where the mandatory death sentence is warranted due to overwhelming grounds," said Ismail.

To an extent, what Respa is asking for does make sense, especially if the victim was your own family member.

Towards this respect, many feel the death sentence should be maintained when it comes to crimes concerning children.

For example, one school of thought is of the opinion that serious sexual crimes against children where the victim's entire future is ruined should be severely punished.

While they agree that drugs can kill, many feel that drug addiction is not forced on a person, but a crime of choice, while a child is an innocent being who can be easily victimised.

During a recent debate on the death sentence, there were those who felt that the sentence should be maintained for crimes such as murder where there is overwhelming evidence to prove the offence, and also sexual crimes, like rape and those against children.

A majority of those who participated in the debate felt greater protection should be given to women and children and that such a harsh penalty, like the death sentence will help deter such crimes.

What do you think? Should the death sentence be abolished or should it be maintained for certain crimes?