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Thursday, 7 September, 2000, 11:33 GMT 12:33 UK
Should the death penalty be abolished in South Asia?

Over half the countries in the world have now abolished the death penalty in law or practice, but it still remains in force in Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan. In Nepal it has been abolished.

South Asia
Is the death penalty an inhumane and degrading punishment? Is human life sacred? Or should murderers pay the ultimate price?

Is it the ultimate deterrent to crime? Or is the risk of innocent men and women being executed too high a price?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

Your reaction

Human rights have to be earned as they are no birthright. If one takes another human being's life then he should have no rights as a human being. Countries in South Asia have no resources to feed murderers at taxpayers' expense.
Mahesh Kashyap, India

Although there is no death penalty in Nepal, life imprisonment is apt for the criminal. I think that the death penalty is a total misuse of power for those who are ruling a country. It should be abolished from South Asia.
Ajay Das, Nepal

Unfortunately, here in the US as night falls on any city, so does the personal safety of each individual

K. Safavi, USA
As an American who has also lived in Saudi Arabia, I would have to say that I felt a lot safer under Islamic Law then I ever did under the American system. Unfortunately here in the US, as night falls on any city, so does the personal safety of each individual. I can only see virtue in the application of Islamic Law rather than any vice. All you have to do is go out on the streets here at night to see what value for life these criminals have for honest hard working individuals.
K. Safavi, USA

The death penalty should be abolished all over the world. It is a clear violation of human rights and should not be accepted by any government, religion or institution.
Claudio Meluzzi Mendes, Brazil

The death penalty is the proper punishment for murderers, paedophiles, and rapists and should therefore never be abandoned. Crimes should be punished, locking people up is a crime in itself that doesn't solve anything
Mohammed Arif, Pakistan

The death penalty should be abolished everywhere. It doesn't deter crime, and mistakes are made. Perhaps prisoners may be executed on request, but life shouldn't be taken from the prisoner without his or her consent.
Morgan O'Conner, USA

I have never been in a favour of the death sentence - it smacks of revenge

Vivien Housam, UK
There is no value for human life these days, nor come to that, no value for any form of life. I have never been in a favour of the death sentence - it smacks of revenge (although I do understand the emotions of the victims family, my husband was murdered).
The death sentence is the ultimate punishment - there is no going back, so what good is a pardon afterwards if new evidence comes to light, but the person has already been killed? It is time to wipe out this kind of punishment.
Vivien Housam, UK

Is the murder of an innocent person by the state a greater crime than the murder of a civilian by a murderer? I say as long as miscarriages of justice occur the death penalty cannot be an acceptable solution.
Krishan Canagasabey, Tamil

More people are executed in USA in a month than all the countries in the sub-continent execute in a year

Bivas Chowdhury, India
The death penalty is recognised by all major religions. In appropriate situations it is a legitimate punishment. It has never been an issue in the sub-continent. More people are executed in USA in a month than all the countries in the sub-continent execute in a year. We can wait at least until the USA outlaws the death penalty.
Bivas Chowdhury, India

The death penalty should be enforced, it sends a strong message to most of the people who commit crime. Prevention is better than a cure, tax payers' money should be used for nation building not maintaining criminals. The death penalty in most of cases acts as a deterrent to crime
Deepak, USA

India should look back into her past for the answer to this question. India is the birthplace of ahimsa, non-violence, and great men like the Mahatma M.K. Gandhi preached non-violence as a way of life. Let us pray that India's inept and corrupt politicians at least recognise the sanctity of life, even if they do not respect peoples' rights to have a good quality of life.
Amos Libby, USA

How can this be a question when it is clear that in Islamic Law the penalty is prescribed. For a true Muslim the death penalty is compulsory and prescribed by God? No Muslim is willing to question the authority of the Prophet Muhammad?
John, Australia

The death penalty is the ultimate penalty and I am all for it. Keeping the enemy of a Nation and its people by taxing those very people makes no sense.
Ashutosh Sapru, USA/India

To question the right of Muslims to practise their own religion is an act of cultural imperialism

Patrick JM Nelson, England
I believe the question of whether the death penalty should be abolished in South Asia is a matter for the people of South Asia to decide. It is also the case that at least in Islamic countries the death penalty is divinely ordained for rape and murder, and to question the right of Muslims to practise their own religion is an act of cultural imperialism.
Patrick JM Nelson, England

I think that is a task that should be taken up the government and investigated thoroughly. People of the respective countries should be allowed to debate such an issue. You can bring up points against and for the death penalty, but I think life imprisonment is probably worse. Watching one's life go to waste is almost as painful if not more than not having to see the next day. Either is cruel, but as humans I believe society should agree on punishing with a lesser evil.
SK, India

Reforms like the abolition of death penalty - a punishment faced by only a tiny minority in the country - come low in our list of priorities because we have so many other pressing problems to deal with such as providing food, clothing and shelter to the vast numbers of law-abiding citizens.
Every time, the self-styled moral crusaders from the west, ostensibly in the cause of furthering humanitarian objectives, try to focus attention on one particular aspect of life in a country, say bonded labour or child workers, to the exclusion of various other factors, only succeed in exacerbating the social problems further.
Mohansingh, India

It's a barbaric act and no civilised society should support it

Dinesh Venkat, USA/India
The punishments should be aimed at keeping the culprit away from the society where he/she is not harmful to anyone and should be a place to rehabilitate the culprit. Killing that person is not the answer and is not a wise thing to do. Philosophically speaking, who are we to take away a person's god given right to live? It's a barbaric act and no civilised society should support it.
Dinesh Venkat, USA/India

I think hanging and Islamic punishments like stoning etc. are very cruel and should be replaced by medium-term imprisonment or else lethal tablets or lethal injection which are much more humane methods of capital punishment.
A.R. Manuelpillai, United Kingdom (Britain)

Certain states in the USA still believe in capital punishment. Why only restrict this debate to India, Bangladesh and Pakistan. In fact statistics prove many more people die by capital punishment in the USA than the three concerned countries put together. I think capital punishment is a good thing PROVIDED the crime warrants it (i.e. rape/paedophilia) and there is absolute conclusive proof that the alleged criminal is the perpetrator.
Imtiaz Khan, UK

The death penalty and prisons would be outdated in the future. Death only releases you from further worries about existence and prisons just cost a lot of money to operate. The future would include 10 lashes on the backside and slave labour on a farm or a factory with daily educational courses in appropriate behaviour.
Aziz Anom, Thailand

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See also:

16 Mar 00 | South Asia
Few executions in Pakistan
15 Mar 00 | South Asia
'100 death sentences' for serial killer

Links to other South Asian stories