Opponents of the death penalty world-wide, hope that
The committee, headed by Driss Benzekri, a close advisor to the king, investigated grave violations of human rights committed between the granting of independence and 1999. It organised public hearings which were broadcast on national television, something unheard of in the Arab world.
Moroccan television has also played a major role in the public debate on the death penalty. Last October the national coalition against the death penalty organised a debate on capital punishment at the headquarters of the lawyer's club in the Moroccan capital,
Later a documentary on the death penalty was also broadcast on television. Nothing like this had ever been produced and shown in an Arab country, one delegate to the recent Paris World Congress against the Death Penalty said. The documentary appears to have convinced some people to switch from supporting the death penalty to becoming abolitionists.
"The abolitionists have the wrong approach to the right to life," Mohamed Chemssy, a lawyer, told IPS. "This right cannot be used to defend someone who has deprived another of precisely this right. Those who support abolition cannot only consider the criminal. They must also consider the families of the victims." He added: "The death penalty cannot be tied to democracy, dictatorship, Islam or to any other religion. It is tied to justice. We do not need to abolish the death penalty. We need to guarantee fair triails for all and an independent judiciary that would give fair sentences no matter what the punishment," he said.
But Ahmed Kouza, a doctor and Amnesty International activist, takes an opposite view:
"Abolition would improve the image of this country and help reinforce respect for human rights where the right to life comes first of all," he told IPS. "Death penalty sentences and executions have never stopped crime anywhere." Judicial mistakes could never be ruled out. The emphasis should be on reforming criminals and returning them to society. "As Muslims, we believe that only God gives life and death," he added.
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