Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Not in My Name

Lethal Injection
Texas approaching its 400th Execution
Fist of all let me say I am opposed to capital punishment. It's harder actually to say why I am; it's not especially an issue of morality - I do believe there may me crimes so terrible that it may be an appropriate price to play, nor is it concerns over miscarriages as I believe that there are cases where the evidence is sufficiently incontrovertible. It guess just comes down to some ephemeral statement about the kind of society I want to live in, one where we hold back from the ultimate sanction and show a degree clemency even in the face of the most vile of provocation. In a sense I wish the law had remained as it stood for a period in many countries prior to abolition, where, while the sentence remained on the statute books commutation to life imprisonment was automatic. It would be to some extent a legal fiction, but in another way it would be a powerful statement by society on its values, and on the true horror of certain crimes.

It's no longer a particularly political issue per se in the United Kingdom, with the matter always having been a matter for a free vote in Parliament, and a degree of polling evidence showing support, though not overwhelming support, for the position our Parliamentarians have taken over the last forty years.

I do not however, in any way, welcome the call by the EU for the Governor of Texas to get rid of the death penalty there yesterday, as it prepared for its 400th execution since the restoration of the penalty. According to the BBC, the Portuguese presidency:
"The European Union strongly urges Governor Rick Perry to exercise all powers vested in his office to halt all upcoming executions and to consider the introduction of a moratorium in the state of Texas."

Source: BBC News

It is true that not having capital punishment is a precondition of EU membership. To campaign for abolition in a state of another non-member sovereign nation however is an act of foreign policy, a foreign policy that the EU is not as yet authorised to pursue, and will only be permitted to do so under a constitutional settlement that at least in this country will be entirely morally illegitimate. The policy of the UK Government, while not explicitly stated is easily derived by its actions. While it makes strong representations on behalf of British citizens under the threat of capital punishment it appears reluctant to explicitly criticise the judgements of other nations, where the rule of law prevails, as they come to their own moral judgements on difficult issues such as this.

This was not an issue in which the Portuguese presidency of the EU should have attempted to overlay a pan-EU position on the respective foreign policies of the member states. It should not be recognised as being an EU position outside the corridors of power in Brussels because of the lack of authority from the people of the EU to represent them on such matters. It's also noticeable that once again the spotlight falls on the US with greater prominence than the 1000 plus executions carried out in China last year alone a similar number to the number of executions carried out in the whole US in the last twenty years since the reintroduction of capital punishment.

Despite my position on capital punishment, it was hard not to have more sympathy for the robust defence of Texas's position by governor's spokesman Robert Black:
"Two hundred and thirty years ago, our forefathers fought a war to throw off the yoke of a European monarch and gain the freedom of self-determination.

"Texans long ago decided the death penalty is a just and appropriate punishment for the most horrible crimes committed against our citizens.

"While we respect our friends in Europe ... Texans are doing just fine governing Texas."

Source: BBC News

Frankly, in this regard, Britons, even in the form of Gordon Brown, are also doing just fine governing Britain without the EU's assistance.


Alfred of Wessex said...

Lucky Texans - they still have self-determination. Since 1973, we haven't, nor will we until either we leave the EUssr, it collapses, or there is a pan-European conflict caused by the impossible strain of holding together peoples with such disparate world-views.

However, the most likely scenario is that England will become the first officially Islamic state in the Caliphate of Eurabia.

Dusanne said...

Can't really disagree on the first paragraph Alfred.

I know the demographics that leads to the second, but I can't help feeling something will give before then. Won't it?..........please.