Monday, 19 September 2011

Why Abdullah Fandi al_Shammari should be spared

In January2005 I received the worst phone call of my life. It was telling me that my sister had been stabbed to death by a man she'd had a relationship with. Nothing could ever have prepared me for news like that, or for the effect it would have on who I am, and my life.

I had had a good deal of experience of grief: the loss of my mother from cancer, the death of my grandparents, a school friend who'd died in a road accident, a number of friends who died of overdoes or intentional suicide. I had also known the victims of violent death. I'd even had the experience of finding , someone I shared a house with dead. So I can, with experience, say that the death of a loved one, by violence is vastly worse than any of these experiences.

I was, in short, to experience a level of pain I could not have imagined. Though it would have been impossible for me to have done so I was burdened with the irrational feeling that I should have been able to protect my sister. I had a feeling of guilt which I knew made no sense but would not leave me. For about five years I could not have honestly answered yes to the question "Are you OK?" because I was not OK and could not even conceive of ever feeling OK again. I had times when the pain was so great that my whole torso ached with pain for days on end.

And yet I am arguing against the execution of Abdullah Fandi al_Shammari who was convicted of murder. The first point is that had my sister's killer faced execution it would not have lessened my pain in any way. It would, in fact, have added to the burden. I say this because waiting for the execution would have caused me to be constantly aware of my sister's killer. It would have also introduced the uncertainty of waiting for an unknown execution date. My grief was hard enough to deal with without introducing the idea that I could have only had "closure" after an execution.

Execution does not deter murder. If it did the murder rate would be lower where there was a death penalty. As the link shows the USA with a death penalty has 5.22 homicides/murders per 100,000 population. In the UK without it the figure is 1.57. This correlation between societies with a death penalty and a high murder rate is repeated again and again across the globe.

In a jurisdiction where there is a death penalty the state's act of intentional killing lowers respect for human life. It most clearly does nothing to make for a society safer.

I argue that the life of Abdullah Fandi al_Shammari should be spared because I am convinced that executions lead to a more violent society.

Abdullah Fandi al_Shammari is due to be beheaded in Saudi Arabia eight days from the writing of this blog post.