Friday, September 24, 2010

ASIA: VIETNAM CATHOLICS SEEK ABOLITION OF DEATH PENALTY

UCAN report: Catholics are seeking a total abolishing of the death penalty amid reforms made by the Vietnamese government proposing a more “humane” execution method.
The Criminal Sentence Enforcement Bill is to replace firing squads with lethal injections, with lawmakers saying they consider this a more humane method of execution. The bill approved by the National Assembly is to take effect on July 1, 2011.
Lawmakers said poisonous injections are less painful for people being executed and keep their bodies intact. It also costs less and reduces psychological pressure on the executors.
Although the local Church has not officially expressed its views on the matter, some Catholics told ucanews.com that the death penalty is atrocious and should be abolished.
“The lethal injection method also kills,” said Father Pierre Phan Khac Tu, pastor of the Vietnamese Martyrs Church in Ho Chi Minh City. Changing one form of execution with another doesn’t change the “inhumanity of the punishment,” he noted.
Father Tu added that a caring society should give prisoners opportunities to return to live a good life.
A Catholic doctor said life has to be protected and respected since it is God’s gift. “People are made in the image of God so we are not allowed to end life just like we would a vegetable,” she remarked.
She said the local Church should protect condemned prisoners through pro-life activities.
Death penalty statistics are not released by the government. However, the country’s courts handed down 59 death sentences in 2008 but only 19 were carried out, according to Amnesty International. Most death sentences are carried out in culpable homicide and organized drug trafficking cases.
Last year, the National Assembly removed rape and several other offences from the list of crimes punishable by death. http://www.ucanews.com/2010/09/24/vietnamese-catholics-seek-death-penalty-abolition/

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