If you’re so inclined as to brush up on your death penalty knowledge, I’ve been working on developing some of my NGO’s information into an english resource for educators. So here are some comprehension questions.
- True or False: The Death Penalty exists in Morocco
- Answer: True: The death penalty is written into the Moroccan Penal Code. However, authorities have granted pardons for all those on death row since 1993. The death penalty contradicts the new constitution, which recognizes the right to life.
- What is the goal of the Second Optional Protocol to the International Pact for Civil and Political Rights (OP2)?
- Answer: The Second Optional Protocol to the International Pact for Civil and Political Rights (OP2) is an international treaty with the goal of abolishing the death penalty. So far, it has been signed by 35 states and ratified by 74.
- What method of execution does Morocco use?
- Answer: Firing squad. The condemned is placed in front of the shooters with hands tied behind the back and eyes covered. Often, some of the shooters have a blank. This relieves them of the trauma of who actually fired the shot.
- True or False: It costs more to keep someone in prison than to sentence them to death.
- False: On average, it costs much more to commit someone to death due to the costs of a trial. In the US, the average cost of defending a trial in a federal death case is over 8 times that of a case in which the death penalty isn’t sought. In California, studies show that if all death row sentences were changed to life imprisonment, savings would average more than $170 million per year.
- True or False: The death penalty has been proven effective for lowering crime rates.
- False: The death penalty hasn’t been proven to dissuade criminals from killing. Texas has the highest crime rates in the US, and yet it was the state with the most executions in 2012: 15 took place in Texas out of 43 total in the US.
- Which groups does the death penalty hurt most?
- Answer: Minority groups. Those who do not have the resources or the means to defend themselves, as well as those who come from minority groups, are the most disadvantaged by the death penalty.
In the US, African Americans represent 14% of the total population, and yet they represent 41% of those detainees on death row, and 35% of those executed.
In Saudi Arabia, close to half of those executed are foreigners, though they represent only a quarter of the overall population.
Homosexuality is grounds for the death penalty, often by public stoning, in 9 countries: Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Mauritania, Nigeria, Yemen, Pakistan, and the United Arab Emirates.
- Do death row inmates in Morocco suffer from mental illness?
- Answer: Nearly 2/3 of inmates on death row in Morocco suffer from mental illness, and resources – including access to psychiatric and psychological services – are inadequate.
Last weekend I was talking with a fellow Duke student doing research in Rabat. He was telling me about a story from his hometown in Pakistan, where a woman was stoned to death by her own father for not marrying the man he had chosen, while the rest of her family looked on. Police and security forces were on hand, as well as hundreds of onlookers, but everyone watched with interest. It’s a crazy world we live in, isn’t it?
I found so many similar stories as I did research on the 9 countries where any form of homosexuality is grounds for execution, often by public stoning as well. It makes me feel like we’re living back during the witch hunts, dumping people into the water to see if they drowned (human) or floated (witch, henceforth, killed).
I’ll be following up soon with a reflection post on my work so far, on the DukeEngage independent blog. I’ll post the link, there are some really amazing, eye-opening Duke projects happening all over the world.