East Belfast Alliance MP Naomi Long has expressed strong opposition to the reintroduction of the death penalty, which is likely to be debated at Westminster due to the submission of a series of on line petitions in favour of its reintroduction. She has also labelled Jeffrey Donaldson MP support for re-introducing the death penalty for terrorist murder cases as ‘misguided and counter-productive’.
Naomi Long MP said: “In principle, I believe that the death penalty is wrong. The state cannot send out a clear and unequivocal message that life is previous and that taking a life is wrong, if it reserves the right to take a life in such a calculated and callous way as a punishment.
“The hallmark of a compassionate society is the ability to deliver real justice, not vengeance. Justice should protect the public, including deterring crime and preventing reoffending, and should punish the offender, but it should also demonstrate the values we want to promote in wider society by doing so in a fair, dignified and compassionate manner.
“I would be opposed to capital punishment even in cases where guilt was beyond doubt; however, we have seen serious miscarriages of justice in the past and even those who do not share my principled objection must surely be concerned at the possibility of an innocent life being taken in error.
“The death penalty is not an effective deterrent. Indeed, many of the countries which retain the death penalty have higher rates of violent crime and murder than those which rely on custodial sentences.
“The suggestion that it would be appropriate for terrorist offences is particularly misguided and could be counter-productive. The trend in international terrorism has been towards suicide attacks, where clearly the threat of execution would be no deterrent. Furthermore, history shows that executions not only create martyrs, rallying people to a cause, but can also fuel a culture of revenge in which terrorism itself can flourish.
“We should instead be tackling the root causes of terrorism and the death penalty, far from being a solution, could make the problem worse.
“Two wrongs do not make a right, and the reintroduction of the death penalty would be a deeply retrograde step.”