NOTICE: The following article is written by the author itself and not by me, I am not trying to violate their copyright. I will give some information on them.
PAGE TITLE: http://www.telegraph.co.uk
ARTICLE TITLE: This is the week I changed my mind about hanging
DATE: Sunday 21 December 2003
AUTHOR: Stephen Pollard
AUTHOR INFORMATION: Stephen Pollard (born c. 1965) is a British author and journalist who is currently editor of The Jewish Chronicle. He is a former Chairman of the European Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism and a former president of the Centre for the New Europe, a free-market think tank based in Brussels. He has written columns for several publications, including The Times and the Daily Mail, and also has also maintained a blog. Pollard is an alumnus of John Lyon School and Mansfield College, Oxford.
I have a question for Tony Blair, for Jack Straw, and for anyone else who says that they oppose the death penalty for murderers such as Ian Huntley but are, none the less, prepared to see Saddam hang. It is a very simple question, made up of just three letters. Why?
All my adult life I have opposed the death penalty. My reasons are standard, shared, I am sure, by the vast majority of those who oppose capital punishment. Of all of them, one stands out: better that 99 guilty men should go free than that one innocent man should be killed. That is, of course, a practical rather than a moral objection, but I have also had a principled objection to the idea of the state taking a life when it sees fit. War, certainly, presents a different circumstance, when there is simply no choice but for the state to kill in order to survive. But it is impossible to imagine how, in response to criminal behaviour, life imprisonment rather than execution would put at risk a country's very existence.
So if last week had been a normal week, my reaction to the conviction of Ian Huntley would have been that he should be locked up for ever - that, as David Blunkett is now attempting to ensure, "life means life". And I would have had very little concern for the conditions in which he was kept - other, that is, than that they should not be comfortable.
But it was not a normal week. By the end of it, I had come to realise that I can see no reason, either moral or practical, why Ian Huntley should not be executed - or why other murderers, too, should not be killed.
Saddam Hussein's capture leads to no other conclusion. It is one thing to argue that taking life is always immoral. Such an absolutist view may be wrong-headed - self defence, by both states and individuals, is the most obvious refutation - but those who argue that Saddam should be punished not through execution but by life imprisonment have at least the virtue of intellectual consistency.
Those, however, such as the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary, who say that they oppose the death penalty (indeed, as Mr Straw put it on Monday, they continue to "campaign hard to try to extend the abolition of the death penalty") but that in this instance they are prepared to acquiesce in what they must consider to be state-sponsored, judicial murder have no such virtue. Their position is incoherent, unprincipled, and plain wrong. If they believe that it is wrong for the state to punish murderers by execution - a perfectly valid position - then it is, well, wrong. It is not wrong in Britain but right in Iraq or wrong in California but right in Texas.
They explain their position - that it is all right to hang Saddam, but not to hang Huntley - with a decidedly specious argument. According to Mr Blair, "it is for them [the Iraqis] to determine what penalties there may be". Aha! Now we are getting to the nub of the issue: Iraqis are barbarians of whom we can expect no better - a view which has been implicit in the comments of those who say that Saddam must be tried by an international, rather than Iraqi, court. Such a stance, which seems at first instance to be respectful of Iraqi feelings, turns out on further examination to be deeply patronising.
Either capital punishment is immoral or it isn't. By refusing to condemn any potential execution of Saddam, Messrs Blair and Straw and the others who have fallen into line behind them are, from their perspective on capital punishment, supporting a grotesquely immoral act. They are also exposing the deep flaws in their opposition to the death penalty at home. If it is wrong to execute Ian Huntley, it is wrong to execute Saddam. But that works in reverse, too. If, as the Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary appear to believe, it is morally acceptable to kill Saddam, how can it be any less so to kill Ian Huntley? It is a perverted moral calculus which holds that murdering two children is somehow more acceptable than murdering 300,000.
I have never been an absolutist in my opposition to ending human life. Since I accept that there are times when it is right to kill, in the last week I have had to ask myself an unsettling question: when could there be a clearer-cut example of living, breathing evil, and when could the extermination of that evil be more justified? As I watched the wonderful pictures of Saddam's humiliation, I could not - nor can I still - think of a single reason why he should not be executed. I am left with only one response, which is that Saddam should indeed be put to death - after due process.
Much as I have tried to escape this conclusion, I cannot: there are no sensible grounds on which one can argue that it is morally right to execute Saddam but not Ian Huntley. Anyone who accepts that Saddam should be killed must also accept the case for capital punishment more generally. We can argue about details - to which forms of murder it should apply, and in what circumstances - but the principle is clear. Accept the moral validity of executing Saddam and you must accept it for executing Huntley - and, indeed, anyone convicted of cold-blooded and deliberate murder.
The imprisonment of Saddam has made me realise that, far from opposing the death penalty, I can see no moral alternative to it. As for the idea that it is better that 99 guilty men go free than one innocent man is hanged, the response of one visiting member of the Chinese judiciary to that statement is perhaps the most pertinent observation: "Better for whom?"
• Stephen Pollard is a senior fellow at the Centre for the New Europe in Brussels. Jenny McCartney returns next week.
I chose this article for the death penalty article of the week as Saddam Hussein was executed by hanging six years ago on this day (30 December 2006). I will post from Wikipedia on how Saddam Hussein was put to death:
Prior to execution
Two days prior to the execution, a letter written by Saddam appeared on the web site. In the letter, he urged the Iraqi people to unite, and not to hate the people of countries that invaded Iraq, like the United States, but instead the decision-makers. He said he was ready to die a and he said that this is his death sentence. In the hours before the execution, Saddam ate his of chicken and rice, with a cup of hot water and honey. He then said prayers and read verses from the .
Time and place
Saddam was executed by hanging at approximately 06:00 local time (03:00 GMT) on December 30, 2006, the day Sunni Iraqis begin celebrating Eid al-Adha. Reports conflict as to the exact time of the execution, with some sources reporting the time as 06:00, 06:05, or some, as late as 06:10. The execution took place at the joint Iraqi-American military base Camp Justice, located in Kazimain, a north-eastern suburb of Baghdad. Camp Justice was previously used by Saddam as his military intelligence headquarters, then known as Camp Banzai, where Iraqi civilians were taken to be tortured and executed on the same gallows. Contrary to initial reports, Saddam was executed alone, not at the same time as his co-defendants Barzan Ibrahim al-Tikriti and Awad Hamed al-Bandar, who were executed on January 15, 2007.
A senior of Iraqi official who was involved in the events leading to Saddam's death was quoted as saying, "The Americans wanted to delay the execution by 15 days because they weren't keen on having him executed right away. But during the day [before the execution] the prime minister's office provided all the documents they asked for and the Americans changed their minds when they saw the prime minister was very insistent. Then it was just a case of finalizing the details." U.S. military spokesman Maj. Gen. William Caldwell told journalists in Baghdad that after "physical control" of Saddam was given to the Iraqi government, "the multinational force had absolutely no direct involvement with [the execution] whatsoever." There were no U.S. representatives present in the execution room.
Reports circulated that Saddam's behavior was "submissive" and that he was carrying the Qur'an he had been keeping with him throughout his trial before his execution. Al-Rubiae, who was a witness to Saddam's execution, described Saddam as repeatedly shouting "down with the invaders." Al-Rubaie reportedly asked Saddam if he had any remorse or fear, to which Saddam replied:
"No, I am a militant and I have no fear for myself. I have spent my life in jihad and fighting aggression. Anyone who takes this route should not be afraid."
Sami al-Askari, a witness to the execution, said, "Before the rope was put around his neck, Saddam shouted, 'Allahu Akbar. The Muslim Ummah will be victorious and Palestine is Arab!'" Saddam also stressed that the Iraqis should fight the American invaders. After the rope was secured, guards shouted various rebukes including "Muqtada! Muqtada! Muqtada!" in reference to Muqtada al-Sadr; Saddam repeated the name mockingly and rebuked the shouts stating, "Do you consider this bravery?" A Shi'a version of an Islamic prayer was also recited by some of those present in the room, an apparent sectarian insult against the Sunni Saddam. One observer told Saddam:
"Go to hell!"
"The hell that is Iraq?"
Another man asked for quiet, saying,
"Please, stop. The man is facing an execution."
Saddam began to recite the Shahada again. As he neared the end of his second recitation, the platform dropped. According to The New York Times, the executioners "cheer their Shi'ite heroes so persistently that one observer [in the execution chambers] makes a remark about how the effort to rein in militias does not seem to be going well." During the drop there was an audible crack indicating that his neck was broken. After Saddam was suspended for a few minutes, the doctor present listened with a stethoscope for a heartbeat. After he detected none, the rope was cut, and the body was placed in a coffin.
Alleged postmortem stabbings
According to Talal Misrab, the head guard at Saddam's tomb and who also helped in the burial, Saddam was stabbed six times after he was executed. The head of Saddam's tribe, Sheikh Hasan al-Neda, denies this claim. Mowaffak al-Rubaie, Iraq's security advisor, stated, "I oversaw the whole process from A-Z and Saddam Hussein's body was not, not stabbed or mutilated, and he was not humiliated before execution."
Saddam's body was buried in his birthplace of Al-Awja in Tikrit, Iraq, near family members, including his two sons Uday and Qusay Hussein, on December 31, 2006 at 04:00 local time (01:00 GMT). His body was transported to Tikrit by a U.S. military helicopter. Saddam was handed over from Iraqi Government possession to Sheikh Ali al-Nida, the late head of the Albu Nasir tribe and governor of Salaheddin, to be buried. He was buried about three kilometers (2 mi) from his two sons in the same cemetery. Saddam's eldest daughter Raghad Hussein, under asylum in Jordan, had asked that "his body be buried in Yemen temporarily until Iraq is liberated and it can be reburied in Iraq", a family spokesperson said by telephone. The family also said his body might be buried in Ramadi, citing safety concerns, though there are no plans to do this.
Three years after writing this article, Stephen Pollard was right; Saddam Hussein was hung for war crimes. Ian Huntley is still alive, while the Soham girls are dead and gone. I was like Stephen Pollard, a strong opponent of the death penalty but became a supporter because of the murder of Sally Anne Bowman and Amrozi’s execution (together with several other reasons).
“Better for whom?”
Like Pollard, one of the reasons why I used to oppose capital punishment is that I was afraid of an innocent person being executed. Timothy Evans was the first case of a wrongful execution, which I read about. However, after reading the case carefully, I have doubts if he truly was innocent of his crimes. Other than being better for the wrongful condemned man’s family, I do not think it is better for society to let the truly guilty killers live. Think of the victims’ families and violent criminals.
If you want to reintroduce capital punishment to the United Kingdom, please leave the European Union.John O’Sullivan will explain more.
See the videos on Saddam Hussein’s trial and execution: