Troy Davis: An Alienable Right to Life?


Troy Davis. Courtesy of Amnesty.org.uk

The USA tries to project itself as a moral compass for the rest of the world. Its interventions in Libya and Afghanistan were pitched to the American public (and the rest of the world) as necessary because of the atrocities and human rights violations that were being committed by governments that were deaf to protest.

It’s never been one to shy away from hypocrisy either.

Tonight sees another man about to be murdered by the state under dubious circumstances. Georgia, never know for its tolerance, will execute Troy Davis at midnight (GMT time) for the 1989 murder of an off-duty policeman. However, since his conviction, seven out of the nine original witnesses have recanted their statements and one has even implicated another man who allegedly admitted the murder at a party in 2009.

Despite numerous appeals to prove there is reasonable doubt to halt the execution and the actions of human rights groups in America and in Europe the Georgia Parole Board refused to grant clemency.

Regardless of whether or not Troy Davis is actually guilty, can America still really justify this form of punishment?

It prides itself on the fact that it is a kinder and fairer place to live than places like Iran or China (which executed a minor for murder and a drug trafficker respectively today as well) but if it practises the same sort of punishments then how can it claim the moral high ground. Why is capital punishment alright for one country and not for others?

True China executes people for corruption and Iran executes homosexuals and America only executes murderers who have been convicted beyond all reasonable doubt. However, the notion that murder is the worse crime a person can commit comes from the idea, enshrined in the American Declaration of Independence that everyone has the inalienable right to life. Why can’t China or Saudi Arabia say ‘you use capital punishment, why can’t we?’

It may not seem fair but it simply cannot be one rule for the state and another for the individual. Its one of the only values we have that is black and white, it has to be protected no matter how unfair it seems. Capital punishment is hypocritical.

I know that the family of the victim have their rights too. However, they have the right to justice, not the right to kill. Whoever murdered that policeman, whether it was Troy Davis or not, should rot in a prison cell the rest of their life, but, and it may be a cliché, an eye for an eye would make the whole world blind. The convicts’ rights should not trump the victims but it can’t be the other way around either.

We condemn murderers but the Georgia Parole Board don’t seem to have much of a problem carrying out exactly the same act on the man the have condemned. You can’t stop being a human being, therefore you can’t lose your human rights. Otherwise, what makes the West differ from the various oppressive regimes around the world?

Troy Davis has approximately five hours left to live. If you don’t agree with what is happening to him or believe he is innocent sign Amnesty International’s last ditched petition . Otherwise the USA will have a bit more blood on their hands.

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Published by

Caroline Mortimer @CJMortimer

Freelance journalist.

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