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Elena Dorokhova,
Death Penalty: Pros and Cons
Nargis Zokirov (Birmingham), Gulzat Gazieva (OSH)

On August 1, 2003, on the initiative of President Emomali Rakhmonov, the law “On introducing amendments and additions to the Criminal Code of the Republic of Tajikistan” was adopted, according to which the number of articles imposing the death penalty was reduced to 5 articles with the following crimes: murder, rape, terrorism , genocide and biocide. Almost exactly a year later, in July 2004, the President of the country signed the law “On Suspending the Use of the Death Penalty”, according to which a moratorium on the use of the death penalty is introduced in Tajikistan. As an alternative to this type of punishment was life imprisonment.

Nevertheless, as of today, the Tajik public still continues to widely discuss the issue of the death penalty. She had both supporters and opponents. Each of them defends its truth. Supporters of the death penalty are confident that only this type of punishment is a deterrent from committing terrible acts and crimes. Opponents argue that this type of punishment "in all legal systems is explained by a relic of pagan customs, which have always been perceived as retaliation by a uniform action: for murder, by murder."

According to Karimjon Soliyev, Deputy Head of the Academy of the Ministry of Internal Affairs for Science, the death penalty should not take place in a civilized society in the near future, especially when Tajikistan declared itself a part of the world community, suggesting respect and adherence to its principles. “Therefore, for us, taking into account the socio-political conditions, there was an acceptable step-by-step approach to the problem of the abolition of the death penalty, in particular, restricting its use at first in respect of those crimes that are not related to the assault on life. For example, crimes, the subject of which are narcotic drugs, robbery, hijacking or seizure of an air, water vessel or train, rape and a number of others. At the initial stage, such an approach was recognized as necessary and expedient, ”says Soliev.

He also added that the problem of the death penalty has always been relevant and has remained relevant throughout the world. According to the Amnesty International report, more than a hundred countries of the world, that is, most of all countries have abandoned the death penalty, but a few dozen more countries retain and practice this type of punishment. “In 2003, in Strasbourg, under the auspices of the Council of Europe, the first World Congress against the Death Penalty was held, the participants of which appealed to all countries of the world to repeal this type of punishment. At this congress, terrible statisticians were announced, indicating that approximately 7 out of every 100 death sentences were erroneous or not fair. Indeed, in reality, even the law enforcement practice of the CIS countries shows that after the execution of the sentence, it turned out that this or that person was not convicted fairly, ”the expert notes.

According to the lawyer of the Republican Bureau for Human Rights and Rule of Law, Sergei Romanov, supporters of the death penalty argue for the need for this type of punishment: this measure is necessary as a means of protecting society from the threat posed by dangerous criminals, it should serve as a deterrent to other potential criminals from committing serious crimes, proportionality of punishment, i.e. if a person deliberately deprived the life of another person, then he himself must be deprived of life. In addition, the victims or their relatives may claim to be satisfied in the form of an act of retaliation.

“This opinion is contradicted by the fact that even in those states where the defendant is given every opportunity to defend and ensure a fair trial, there are often cases where people were sentenced to death and executed for crimes they did not commit. As for the satisfaction of the act of retribution, even in the case of the execution of the murderers, the pain of losing a loved one is irreparable. Therefore, none of the above arguments can justify the death of an innocent, ”said Romanov. He added that "even if we assume that the probability of errors is excluded, it is still impossible to recognize the arguments cited as sufficient." According to the human rights activist, the protection of society from dangerous individuals can ensure their detention; It is difficult to prove that the death penalty makes a greater impression on potential criminals than the threat of prolonged life imprisonment.

A resident of the capital Adolat Khadzhaeva is a supporter of the death penalty. She is sure that only this type of punishment is fair for the criminal who took the life of another person. “Sometimes people commit such sophisticated types of crime that goosebumps run. Why the offender at the time of the murder or rape, for example, a minor girl does not think about humanity, about the relatives and friends of his victim. He does not think about whether he even has the right to deprive someone of life? So why should the state and society show humanity and pity towards this person? ”She says.

She is supported by Mukim Kadyrov, a resident of the city of Dushanbe, who is also a supporter of this type of punishment. “My close friend killed an only son two years ago, and it was very cruel. For him and for his family, this was a great tragedy and loss. They still can not recover. They live only on drugs. Killers have not yet been found. Both of them, day and night, think only of retribution and wish them dead, but only by legal means, that is, through the death penalty. And I understand and support them ... ”, says Mukim.

A different opinion is shared by a resident of the Khatlon region, Malika Khasanova. She believes that only God has the right to decide who should live and who needs to go to another world. “I think that life imprisonment is quite a severe punishment. Just imagine: spend the rest of your life in a confined space. Do not see their loved ones, do not grow up children and grandchildren. In a word, lose all the joys of life. Is punishment worse than this? ”

Human rights activist Sergei Romanov notes that public opinion polls about the preservation or abolition of the death penalty in our legislation confirm that most people support its preservation. “There is a paradoxical situation: demanding a humane attitude towards themselves, people are inhuman towards others,” he stresses. At the same time, he noted that statistics all over the world show that abolition of the death penalty in no way affects the level of crimes committed in the country.

Supporters of the death penalty unanimously argue that at this stage Tajik society is not ready for the complete abolition of the death penalty. For this, in their opinion, it is necessary to hold a whole range of different activities. In the process of abolishing or retaining the death penalty in the Tajik legislation, the people themselves should participate through a referendum. However, human rights activists are confident that society will never be ready to address this issue.


“If Kyrgyzstan does not abolish the death penalty, it will be a contagious example for neighboring states,” Kyrgyz ombudsman Tursunbai Bakir uulu said. The Kyrgyz authorities prolong the death penalty moratorium from year to year, not daring to simply abolish it, replacing it with life imprisonment. Commenting on this problem, Tursunbai Bakir uulu said literally the following: “I do not condone the criminals, everyone must answer for what he did, but not by means of the death penalty. I advocate life imprisonment. ”

Deputy Kubatbek Baibolov believes that the adoption of a moratorium by Kyrgyzstan on the execution of the death penalty in 1998 should logically end with its complete abolition. “Every year we cannot extend the moratorium and keep people in an uncertain position,” Baybolov said.

Another issue related to death row inmates is where to keep them. While they are being held in various places, most of all are in the Bishkek SIZO, where 80% of all those sentenced to death in the country are located. Therefore, the issue of building a special prison for death row inmates is extremely acute. The Ombudsman’s Institute is negotiating with a number of international organizations to build a prison for suicide bombers. The intention to build a special prison for suicide bombers was announced by the Ministry of Justice of Kyrgyzstan. This was announced at a press conference by the Deputy Minister of Justice, who oversees the country's penitentiary system, Sergei Zubov. According to him, the prison will be built exclusively by the forces of convicts, among whom there are many competent specialists. For good work, builders may be eligible for parole or other relief measures. In general, the construction of a special prison requires more than three and a half million dollars. Human rights defenders of the country are skeptical about the idea of ​​building a special prison. “From a material point of view, Kyrgyzstan is not able to build a colony for former suicide bombers. In order to find a place, it is quite possible to release those convicted of minor crimes with the use of an alternative measure of punishment. There are not so many suicide bombers in Kyrgyzstan that they do not have enough space in the colonies, ”says Nina Zotova, a lawyer at the Citizens Against Corruption advocacy center.

According to the International Crisis Group, the moratorium on the death penalty in Kyrgyzstan has been in effect since 1998. But despite this, death sentences continue to be imposed and death row inmates are held in unsanitary conditions in overcrowded cells, causing some of them to die each year. The Criminal Code continues to be cruel, punitive, and acquittals or alternative sentences are rarely imposed. Efforts to implement legal reform have stalled. A report by the Prison Nightmare of Kyrgyzstan by the International Crisis Group states that in 2005, Kyrgyzstan had issued seventeen death sentences, and in 2006, two were sentenced to death for the murder of deputy Bayaman Erkinbayev.

The prison system in Kyrgyzstan is subordinate to the General Directorate for the Execution of Sentences (GUIN). Until 2002, the GUIN was under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Kyrgyz Republic, now at the insistence of human rights and international organizations, it is subordinate to the Ministry of Justice. The GUIN includes 36 penitentiary institutions, 11 of which are high security colonies. As of January 1, 2006, according to the data cited in the report of the Prison Nightmare of Kyrgyzstan by the International Crisis Group, there were 15,758 prisoners, which, in the opinion of this authoritative international organization, is an impressive figure for a country with a population of 5 million people.

The official opinion of the Government of Kyrgyzstan on the abolition of the death penalty was voiced by the Minister of Justice Marat Kayypov, stating that the abolition of the death penalty in the country is fully consistent with the mentality of the Kyrgyz. It turns out, according to the Minister of Justice, the Kyrgyz people for a long time abandoned the principle of “an eye for an eye” and introduced financial compensation for the loss of the breadwinner - “kun”, which was paid to the family of the deceased until his children grow up. Article 14 of the new edition of the Constitution of the Kyrgyz Republic states that in Kyrgyzstan no one can be arbitrarily deprived of life. “In the spirit of the Basic Law, we will seek to review the 165 criminal cases in which the death penalty was previously sentenced. We propose a life sentence. But this does not mean that the person will remain in the chamber until the end of his days, ”the Minister of Justice emphasized, speaking on the legal side of the problem.

In total, in Kyrgyzstan, according to the Ministry of Justice, there are 167 prisoners sentenced to death. The GUIN leadership frankly speaks about the conditions of detention of prisoners of death, emphasizing that the conditions are terrible and all this happens in violation of all our laws. Former head of the GUIN, Kapar Mukeev, told media in January 2006 that 73 of those sentenced to death had died after a moratorium was introduced in 1998. Almost all died of tuberculosis and suicide. By the way, today in Kyrgyzstan the maximum term of imprisonment is 30 years.

The prison contingent of Kyrgyzstan opposes the death penalty. Virtually all prisoners who participated in the study conducted by the Ombudsman of Kyrgyzstan, called for the abolition of exceptional punishment. Two thirds of the penitentiary staff are in favor of retaining the death penalty. At the same time, many of the workers of the penitentiary system note the difficulties that bring them sentenced to an exceptional measure of punishment, the final report of the ombudsman’s institution on the results of a sociological survey in the country's penitentiary institutions, circulated in the media, says.

Local human rights organizations actively advocate the abolition of the death penalty. The Citizens Against Corruption Human Rights Center appealed to the president with an appeal in which they urge the head of state to support the following initiatives: to ensure that relatives of previously executed persons are given full access to information about the date, place of execution and burial of the body, and also allow them to take away the remains of the executed and any remaining items; contribute to the speedy resolution of the issue of the construction of a special regime prison facility for this category of prisoners in compliance with their civil rights, which will enable their transfer from the SIZO where they are held in harsh unbearable conditions; create and provide more open access to information on the situation of the death penalty in Kyrgyzstan (taking into account the approaches of the authoritarian, repressive previous regime), with the aim of more active cooperation with Amnesty International and other international organizations dealing with this issue.

According to the Deputy Minister of Justice of Kyrgyzstan, Sergei Zubov, the death penalty in the country will soon be abolished and impose life imprisonment in its place. The relevant bill is already in the parliament.
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