When I talk with proponents of the death penalty, they often cite the victims' families, as if killing the killer will somehow bring a sense of closure or justice to the familes.
It may make some families feel better. But that's not about justice, it's about revenge.
Don't believe me? Well, maybe you'll believe real families of real victims:
To mark this World Day Against the Death Penalty, the organization Murder Victims' Families for Human Rights has issued the following statement calling for the member states of the United Nations to adopt a resolution supporting a global moratorium on executions.
Statement of Renny Cushing, Executive Director of Murder Victims' Families for Human Rights on World Day Against the Death Penalty in Support of a Global Moratorium on Executions
Murder Victims' Families for Human Rights is an organization of family members of homicide victims and family members of people who have been executed. As survivors with a direct stake in the death penalty debate, and as people who believe in the value of basic human rights principles, we join today in the call for a worldwide moratorium on executions.
The most basic of human rights, the right to life, is violated both by homicide and by execution. We call today for a consistent human rights ethic in response to violence: let us not respond to one human rights violation with another human rights violation. Let us recognize that justice for victims is not achieved by taking another life.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was inspired by victims, demanded by victims. It grew out of the suffering of millions of civilians murdered under the brutal regimes of the Second World War, and its adoption on December 10, 1948 was a way to honor the loss of those lives by asserting that such violations are neither moral nor permissible under any nation or regime.
Now, almost sixty years later, let us recognize that violations of human life in the form of the death penalty should not be permissible under any nation or regime. We call for a moratorium on the death penalty because the only way to uphold human rights is to uphold them in all cases, universally.
Today, on World Day Against the Death Penalty, the United Nations General Assembly is considering a resolution that will take us one step closer to fulfilling the aspiration of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. As victims, we urge the members of the General Assembly to adopt the UN resolution for a universal moratorium on executions.
Renny Cushing, Executive Director
Murder Victims' Families for Human Rights