Olga Rudenko writes: Ultimate punishment can help deter crime
The case of Ukrainian Oksana Makar, the 18-year-old Mykolayiv woman who died on
March 28 in a hospital after being gang raped, nearly strangled to death and
set on fire by three young men, has revived talk about reviving the death
penalty in Ukraine.
The nation banned capital punishment 12 years ago, barely using it in the years
leading up to the ban.
But the case of Makar shows that it may be necessary to reinstate it. Makar’s
murderers, who burned the woman alive and then went to buy some tea from a
street kiosk as if nothing happened, are facing between 15 years to life in
But the law allows a convict to plea for a parole after spending 20 years in
prison, which raises a question about the whole idea behind a life sentence.
Even if Makar’s alleged killers and rapists get life sentences, they might get
out of jail in their forties. Makar was only 18 and she died after 3 weeks of
Moreover, once we say that taking away a murderer’s freedom is a fair
punishment for taking away a person’s life we get onto a slippery slope of
making judgments about the value of freedom verses the value of life, we start
to compare the two. But who are we to do that?
We can't punish someone who took someone’s life by taking their freedom because
we will never know if it's too little or too much.
On the other hand, taking a murderer’s life is paying them back with his own
The ancient eye-for-an-eye principle is the best justice.
The only modern renovation it needs is accurate judgment about whether the
crime was deliberate and if there were any mitigating circumstances.
One who killed in a state of shock or deep despair should not be judged the
same as the one who killed in a premeditated way for money or personal
About 5 years ago in Dnipropetrovsk, my home city, a gang of three young men
murdered 21 people aged 13 to 70, for fun.
The murderers chose a random passersby, giving preference to teens, women,
elderly or drunk people.
They killed with hammers.
They filmed their bloody murders.
They are now serving life sentences. But in 20 years, if not earlier, they may
be released – some at the age of only 40, to resume their lives as free men.
To me, that is not right at all.
The death penalty is a deterrent. Just a year ago, 2 men from the Russian city
of Irkutsk were killing people out of pure hate.
When arrested, one of them said he didn’t worry much about being convicted
because he counted on light punishment since he is not an adult.
Consequences mattered to him when he was planning his bloody adventures.
We’ll never know, but even the slight chance of getting capital punishment may
have frightened him enough to not commit the crimes, which included beating a
pregnant woman’s head with a mallet and stabbing an elderly woman in the eye
with a knife.
Critics often say there is no place for the death penalty in a civilized world.
But is it civilized to let murderers back into society, possibly to kill again?
Whenever a homicide happens, police check the area for released convicts. If
they are expected to relapse, why give them the chance?
What is most important is not that the death penalty is cheaper than life
imprisonment, but rather how cruel it is to make a victim’s family and friend –
as taxpayers to the state – pay for the murderer.
But I don’t think the death penalty can be re-established right now in Ukraine.
The irreversibility of capital punishment puts additional responsibility on the
judicial system. And Ukraine’s corrupt system cannot handle the responsibility.
Still, I think the death penalty must be a possibility for Ukrainian society in
the future as a fair part of the judicial system and a logical punishment for
murders without mitigating circumstances.
Alyona Zhuk writes: Courts too unreliable; everyone has rights
Human life is not something to treat lightly.
Whether you believe in God or not, it is something unique and amazing.
Not to mention that in modern society, the right to human life is
indispensable, along with the right not to be subjected to cruel, inhumane or
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as well as most constitutions in
democratic states (including Ukraine’s), protect human life.
According to Amnesty International, an international watchdog, the death
penalty violates the right to life. This argument against capital punishment is
mocked by those who stand for killing criminals, with eye-for-eye arguments.
However, with the numerous pitfalls of any judicial system, there is always the
risk that an innocent person will be executed.
That is exactly what happened to 29-year-old Oleksandr Kravchenko in 1983, when
the state executed him for a crime he did not commit.
The crime was actually committed by Andrei Chikatilo, a notorious serial killer
in the Soviet era. The fact that Chikatilo was also executed, in 1994, does
nothing to correct the horrible mistake of killing an innocent person.
The same miscarriage of justice could have been repeated with Maksym Dmytrenko,
who has spent eight years in jail for a crime he has nothing to do with. He
would have died by now if Ukraine still had death penalty as an option.
Dmytrenko was tortured in 2003 until he admitted he had raped and killed an
He went to prison.
Even though another man confessed to this crime more than a year ago, and was
later proven to have committed the murder, Dmytrenko was locked up in a cell.
The Higher Ukrainian Court found Dmytrenko not guilty on March 13, but he was
only released on March 22.
If that’s not enough, Amnesty International claims that the death penalty is
discriminatory and is often used disproportionately against the poor and
members of racial, ethnic and religious minorities.
Moreover, in some countries, “it is used as a tool of repression to silence the
Considering Ukraine’s political landscape and the sorry state of its judicial
system, the death penalty could well be the ultimate weapon of political
According to the latest report by the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human
Rights Thomas Hammarberg, Ukraine’s judicial system needs more independence and
its systemic deficiencies “seriously hinder the enjoyment of human rights.”
He also recommended increasing transparency of the judicial system and making
it more open to public scrutiny.
But even if the judicial system was flawless, there is always a question of who
has the moral right to conduct the execution.
Why would someone have the right to kill, even on behalf of the law?
Amnesty International's 201 report shows 139 countries have abolished the death
Reportedly, 67 handed out death sentences in 2010 and 23 carried out
executions. These are record low numbers, as human rights organizations
continue pressuring governments to drop the death penalty.
The United Nations General Assembly called for an end to the death penalty in
2008, and although governments don’t have to follow the recommendation, it
certainly reflects a trend.
The European Union is opposed to this form of punishment and, consequently, all
27-member nations have dropped it.
If these and other reasons are not persuasive enough for Ukraine to abandon the
idea of reviving the death penalty, the nation should remember its resurrection
will kill the remaining hopes that Ukraine will ever become welcome in a
democratic, law-abiding, humane Europe.
(source: Kyiv Post)