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Government Must Speak out Against Capital Punishment

Posted on: December 18th, 2003

In the wake of the capture of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, a difficult question is now posed as to what action should be taken against him.

The Irish Government has a responsibility to speak out strongly against capital punishment, as a cruel and retributive form of justice. Whatever judicial process Saddam undergoes, it should be in line with UN principles on human rights.

Everybody welcomes the capture of Hussein and there is no doubt that a tyrant whom everybody condemns is now in prison. We should have a debate on this because we have a proud record on Iraq in this House.

The Leader of the House has, very rightly, allowed free debate on this because it is an important issue, but there is another issue on which we have a proud record in this House and Senator Ryan rightly alluded to it, namely, capital punishment. I find it disgusting that the Americans should take the first opportunity of parading their approval of capital punishment around the world and for President Bush to come out and say that this man should be executed.

I want the Minister for Foreign Affairs to attend this House, because there is always a deafening silence in this House when Americans execute people in their own country. The Government is too cowardly to take up the issue and make a protest.

Given that we claim to have an influence in the United Nations and on America, and that we rightly allowed US aeroplanes to land at Shannon, we should in the loudest possible terms protest to the President of the United States of America for now appearing to be the arbiter of judgment and deciding that people, leaders and tyrants around the world should be executed.