No credible evidence that death penalty deters crime - Lamola

Wednesday, March 1, 2023

Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development, Ronald Lamola, says there is “no credible evidence” to suggest that the death penalty is more effective at deterring criminality than long prison sentences.

The Minister was addressing the 13th International Congress of Justice Ministers in Rome on Wednesday morning, where dialogues are being held between both death penalty abolitionist and retentionist countries.

“Countries that have death penalty laws do not have lower crime rates or murder rates than countries without such laws. Where the death penalty has been there, (there are) also no significant changes in either crime or murder rates.

“As we gather here today, there is consensus that the State-sponsored vengeance in the form of the death penalty does not alter society. If anything, it makes the world even more violent and inhumane.”

Lamola explained that although the values of South Africa’s Constitution and international law are “mutually reinforcing and interrelated”, South Africa has taken the stance to affirm the right to life in “our extradition and mutual legal assistance framework”.

“Our Extradition Act… makes it clear that where an offence is punishable by death or any other inhumane or degrading punishment under the laws of the requesting State… South Africa will be obliged to engage the requesting State to provide assurances... that the death penalty or other inhumane or degrading punishment will not be imposed, or if imposed, will not be carried out.

“We believe that this approach will enable us to not only uphold a human rights culture in the world but ensure that our commitments in forums like these and in other multilateral institutions are credible and continue to spread across,” Lamola said.

He emphasised that the role of the justice system is “not a pursuit of vengeance but justice”.

“Justice does not only judge the person before the court, it adjudicates the actions of society as a whole.

“Therefore, the ultimate solution in addressing the harms that criminals accrue to society is not limited to afflicting a consummate response on the perpetrator, but also helping society understand why our communities produce individuals who are of this calibre,” he said. –