Saturday, February 9, 2013

My letter to President of India on Afzal Guru's death sentence

The President of India
Rashtrapathi bhavan
New Delhi

October 3, 2006

Respected Sir,

Sub: Commutation of death penalty awarded to Mohammed Afzal

I seek your kind and urgent attention in the following matter. An anti-terrorism court in New Delhi had awarded death penalty to Mr. Mohammed  Afzal and set October 20 as the date for execution. I plead your Excellency to commute the death sentence awarded to the above person.

Your Excellency may be aware that over half the countries in the world (129) have now abolished the death penalty in law or practice. Of these, 88 countries have abolished the punishment for all crimes. 11 countries have abolished death penalty except for exceptional crimes. 30 countries have retained the death penalty in law, but have not carried out any executions for the past ten years.

In a context where the entire world’s justice system is moving away from the logic of an eye-for-an-eye, I request your Excellency to initiate steps to enlist our country in the above said abolitionist list. As you may be aware, scientific studies have failed to find convincing evidence that the death penalty deters crime more effectively than other punishments. The most recent survey of research findings on the relation between the death penalty and homicide rates was a study conducted for the United Nations in 1988. Updated in 2002, this study states: “It is not prudent to accept the hypothesis that capital
punishment deters murder to a marginally greater extent than does the threat and application of the supposedly lesser punishment of life imprisonment”.

I don’t want to go into the merits of the specific case in which Mr Afzal was tried and proven guilty. The Supreme Court has already acquitted two other persons who were awarded death penalty along with Mr. Afzal. This sentence was originally awarded by the special court under section 3(2) of the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA). I want to draw your Excellency’s attention towards the fact that the above said draconian law was abolished by our government later.

Considering the above facts I sincerely request your Excellency to consider this case sympathetically and commute the death sentence.

Thanking you

D. Ravikumar

Member of Legislative Assembly, Tamil Nadu
Viduthalai Chiruthaikal Katchi 

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