‘Human Rights’ for murderers?

| 28/10/2014

‘Human Rights’ are getting in the way of common sense again. Over the last few years, there has been much debate about the suggestion that those convicted of murder should at some stage in the future be considered for release from prison and reintegration into society.

The most commonlyarticulated reaction to this is a strong disapproval and demand that ‘life should mean life’, or even a suggestion of a return to the death penalty. Frequently those commenting ask the not unreasonable question ‘What about the victim?’  Blame is regularly laid at the feet of ‘Human Rights’ for demanding the light sentencing of criminals. In the last week this issue has also been discussed in the Legislative Assembly and often these opinions have been articulated there too.

This important debate is sometimes devalued by a fundamental misunderstanding of what the offence of murder entails. Murder is not just one crime – it covers the widest range of offences – and not all of them are of equal seriousness.

If an individual breaks into a house at night and kills several members of the same family that is murder, as is the sadistic killing of a child for sexual gratification, a contract killing, or a terrorist outrage. Few people would suggest that crimes of this nature do not deserve amongst the most severe sentences that society has the power to inflict.

However, the mercy-killing of a loved spouse in agony with terminal cancer who asks ‘Please help me to die’ is also murder. And the man who, defending his family from violence, uses too much force and kills an armed attacker is also a murderer. Again, no rational person would begin to suggest that these individuals should be sentenced in the same way as child murderers and terrorists. A number of people might suggest neither should even go to prison.

Any sentencing regime must take into account all the circumstances of an offence, the victim and the offender – not just the name by which lawyers call it, which may be very different from what the public perceive it to be. Of course consideration must be given to the rights of the victim and their family – ‘Human Rights’ demands that too. But anything that removes the discretion of a sentencing judge to assess the seriousness of a case is likely to result in injustice.

So have the debate. Express your strongly-held and important views. But don’t just blame ‘Human Rights’ – they’re not as far removed from common sense as you might think.

*The Human Rights Commission and the former Human Rights Committee have both reviewed these issues in greater technical detail and their reports can be found on the Commission’s website www.humanrightscommission.ky

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Category: Viewpoint

Comments (25)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Can someone please explain why our Penal Code and English law terms as "murder""or "manslaughter" all cases of one causing the death of another, except causing death by dangerous driving? It appears, and I recall, that past prosecutions have failed to convict charges of murder because the evidence didn't support and thus have failed; when perhaps laying a charge of a lesser degree of causing death may have been successful. Some countires, including the US, term all deaths of a person as "homicide" until the circumstances indicate specifically – thus leading to charges of capital, first degree, second degree murder and vehicular homicide, etc.

    Not sure where there is any consistent legislation on euthansia, except perhaps in The Netherlands but in the US Jack Kevorkian received a second degree murder conviction for assisting suicide.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Someone who defends their family from an armed intruder and kills is not a murderer IMHO.

    • Anonymous says:

      They may not be.  But if they use excessive force they could be.

      • Anonymous says:

        If they use excessive force, then it is manslaughter, not murder.  Murder is when you plan to and deliberately set out to kill or cause the death of another.  Manslaughter is when you kill someone, but killing them was not something you intended to do.

        • Anonymous says:



          No.  You're wrong as a matter of law.  Exccessive force in self defence can not lead to a manslaughter verdict.  Only, potentially, to murder.

      • Anonymous says:

        As if the state of mind at the time of protecting your family can be measured as excessive. Major traumatic event takes place, your brain is not rational but runs on primal instincts. 

    • Anonymous says:

      Someone who defends their family/ property from an intruder and kill the person ,  What rights do the home owner have in the C I H R C  LAW ?  I do not see the reason for only the debate on Human Rights for murderers !

  3. Anonymous says:

    If the problem is that all murders are not the same then the solution is to define in the criminal code lesser offenses that carry a lesser penalty.  Murder without malice or without intent may carry a lesser penalty than life, for example. Such is a debate for the legislature, not something for the courts to mandate.

    Cayman already accepts that not every instance of causing death in commision of a criminal act is necessarily a murder warranting life in prison. Dorlisa Piercy was convicted of causing the death of a friend due to dangerous driving and was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment and disqualification from obtaining or holding a driver’s license for five years following her release. She killed someone for sure, but based upon the overall circumstance was not sentenced to a life term for murder.

    If there is legitimate concern about over-sentencing someone for a "mercy killing" or some lesser-culpable killing then the solution is not to give earlier release to a sadistic killer, a gang shooter, or a killer-for-hire who was sentenced to life. For the worst of the worst we still need a life-means-life penalty.

  4. Anonyanmous says:

    Thank you CIHRC for the excellent Viewpoint, it should now give a clearer understanding to those who did not fully understand the intent and spirit of the law.

  5. Soldier Crab says:

    The Human rights law was made by a bunch of criminals. When victims or law abiding citizens rights are taken away by this law you know there's really not much safe places in this world one can feel protected. Sad but it seems the whole world has gone mad!

    • Anonymous says:

      Your total failure to address the substance of the article gives an indication of your ability to consider the issues involved.

    • WannabeBracca says:

      To 20:37. Did you even read the article? 

    • Anonymous says:

      20;37

      I have to agree with you 100%

      These criminals are out of Brussel, They are eventually going to destroy the world with their Human rights laws.

      THe UK is debateing strongly to pull out from the European Union. They have to obey every unconceivable, rediculous human rights laws, implimented by Brussel.

      Brussel told them they can't deport Jihadist,and other harden criminals, even when they come from other countries.

      Brussel  is deliberately putting countries in a precurious situation, which encourages criminality .

       This takes away the citizen's rights to live in a safe invironment.

      XXXXX

      These mad bastards have to be stopped befor they totalley destroy the world.

    • Anonymous says:

      20:37, return to your shell, idiot.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Hear hear !

  7. Anonymous says:

    Mercy-killing ? ?

    It's called euthanasia, from the Greek "Good death".

    But in this conservative religious country it will not be understood for another 80 years.

     

    • Anonymous says:

      "Understood"? I think you mean "condone", and the answer is not 80 years but never. 

  8. Anonymous says:

    When will the Commission be dealing with the right of all children to free state primary and secondary education, which is currently being ignored in the Cayman Islands?

    • Anonyanmous says:

      There is free primary and secondary education in Cayman for all Caymanian children, the commission knows that so go find another subject of relevance.

      • Anonymous says:

        Yes, but it the right is guaranteed for all children, so the discrimination of children must end.

      • Anonymous says:

        You misunderstand – the right enshrined in the Bill of Rights is actually an "aspirational" right to provide free education for all children living in the Islands. It is unlikely ever to be achieved because it would cost so much…..

        However

        All of the Rights in the BOR are not limited to Caymanians, they are for all persons in the Cayman Islands, that includes non-Caymanian residents, visitors (including tourists visiting for less than a day), and even people on ramshackle boats in Caymanian Territorial Waters…..

        • Anonymous says:

          The Cayman BOR is an irrelevance as the ECHR has higher normative effect.  There would be no basis to argue lack of funds in a place that has no tax.  In fact now the Privy Council has confirmed Orders in Council can be challenged on a broader basis it is probably the case that the non-compliant Cayman Constitution is more amenable to a legal challenge without the need to go to Strasbourg.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Well said! I totally agree with the points of this viewpoint.