Thursday, 10 November 2011

DUP and the Death Penalty Part II

The DUP MPs David Simpson, Sammy Wilson, Jim Shannon, Gregory Campbell and Jeffrey Donaldson say they are backing a motion to discuss the return of the death penalty. They say this issue was last discussed in 1998 in Westminster in 1998 and that it was now time for the debate to be reopened.

Indeed Mr Donaldson had earlier said that he wanted it brought back for convicted terrorists. Time I think to republish a certain photo.

The issue had of course been debated in each parliament since the abolition of the death penalty up until 1998 when it was last put to the house. Ironically the last time it was amended removing the death penalty for treason, piracy and mutiny were all removed from the statute book. Of course for the Death Penalty was removed in 1965 for most of the UK except Northern Ireland when it came to an end in theNorthern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Act 1973.

The Belfast Agreement contains the following statement on policing and justice (emphasis mine):

The participants believe it essential that policing structures and arrangements are such that the police service is professional, effective and efficient, fair and impartial, free from partisan political control; accountable, both under the law for its actions and to the community it serves; representative of the society it polices, and operates within a coherent and co-operative criminal justice system, which conforms with human rights norms. The participants also believe that those structures and arrangements must be capable of maintaining law and order including responding effectively to crime and to any terrorist threat and to public order problems. A police service which cannot do so will fail to win public confidence and acceptance. They believe that any such structures and arrangements should be capable of delivering a policing service, in constructive and inclusive partnerships with the community at all levels, and with the maximum delegation of authority and responsibility, consistent with the foregoing principles. These arrangements should be based on principles of protection of human rights and professional integrity and should be unambiguously accepted and actively supported by the entire community.

We were basing a Northern Ireland that was based on norms, ironically in the same week that the final death penalties were being removed from the statute book, in July 1998.

So does Donaldson's statement indicate a unilateral removal of Northern Ireland from the EU and the European Convention on Human Rights in Protocol 6, Article 1 states:

The death penalty shall be abolished. No one shall be condemned to such penalty or executed.

There are exceptions in time of war, but the DUP are talking about a shared future therefore a peaceful future so hard to find where the war is.

The DUP are saying that one of the reasons they want the debate is "because [they] want to hear the contrary arguments." Interesting that at Stormont quite a lot of the time they refuse to hear the contrary argument (eg The Blood Ban) and make their own decisions without consultation with a contrary position to their own. Curious that the DUP are supporting the 25,000 strong petition to bring back the death penalty and not the contrary reaction based 30,000 strong petition to keep it off the statute books.

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