Thursday, September 22, 2011

Execution of Troy Davis killed justice

Troy Davis, an African American man, on death row for two decades, was executed last night in Georgia by a lethal injection.

He is the 33rd prisoner to be executed in the United States this year. Georgia is one of the 34 states that has death penalty for crimes that may otherwise get only life sentences in other states. But what makes capital punishment even more brutal and barbaric is a case like Troy Davis.
Troy Davis’ case is no ordinary one and rightly created a huge uproar with people all over the world appealing for his clemency. I did too through Amnesty International and then again yesterday when his clemency was rejected I appealed to the parole board like thousands of others to reconsider the decision. He was supposed to be executed at mid night (GMT) and I remembered him then and said a little prayer before going to sleep. I prayed he would be spared.

Alas I woke up to the news that he was executed. RIP Troy.

It seemed minutes before they injected him with the lethal dose, he asked to speak to the family of the murdered off-duty police officer and told them ‘I did not have a gun. I was not the one who took the life of your father, son, brother. I am innocent.’ Yet when Troy died, it was reported that some family members walked away with a smile.

This is the sad nature of a grotesque society that believes in capital punishment. Death penalty enjoys broad public support especially in states like Georgia.

To rejoice on the death of a fellow human being is inhuman. Yet what is more inhuman is to kill those whose guilt is shrouded in controversy. Troy Davis was declared guilty until proved innocent and that’s the mockery of the judicial system.

His crime: Troy Davis has been alleged to beat up a homeless man in a dispute over a bottle of beer and then shoot to death an off-duty police officer, Mark MacPhail, who apparently jumped in to help.I believe Troy deserved clemency simply because there are too many unanswered questions about his guilt.

1. Hostile witnesses: After his conviction, seven of the nine eye witnesses who appeared at his trial in 1991 recanted their evidence. Some said they were pressured by the police, others said they were illiterate and didn’t understand what they were signing.

2. ‘Murderer’ turns witness? Only two have stuck by their testimonies. One is Sylvester Coles who has been himself accused of the murder and as such his testimony holds little value. In fact nine individuals have signed affidavits implicating Sylvester Coles.

3. Even some jurors have gone on record to say they wouldn't vote to convict him if they knew then what they know now.

4. There is no forensic evidence to prove that Troy committed the murder.He was even refused a lie detector test. Why?

5. Where is the murder weapon? Troy said he had no gun and none was found. Coles however later admitted to owning a similar weapon but claimed he lend it to a friend that night.
It’s not proved without a doubt that Troy Davis murdered McPhail. In fact, it gives good evidence to the contrary.

Is this the new apartheid or the return of the Southern lynching behaviour we now see in the form of ‘legal lynching’ as Davis’s lawyer describes his execution?

Even in the United States, Justice John Paul Stevens calls the death penalty "unconstitutional." He believes that African-Americans who are charged with murder are dramatically more likely than whites to be executed.

A study conducted by American Bar Association in 2006 to evaluate fairness and accuracy in death penalty system in Georgia found that ‘the race of the defendant and the race of the victim predict who is sentenced to death, with white suspects and those who kill white victims being more likely to be sentenced to death than black suspect and those who kill black victims'.

Why in such a progressive society like the United States do we still have such barbaric laws - laws that cannot deliver justice without prejudice; laws that promise to not hang the culprit unless there is no doubt of his crime, yet do the very opposite?

In the name of justice, Troy Davis was executed yesterday. Yet today it is justice that is hanging from the gallows.


Life Unordinary said...

Ruhi - I can't believe you wrote abt Troy Davis, I had it in my mind too to blog about it:) I disgaree with you though, I believe in the dealth torn sometimes.

Ruhi Khan said...

I don't believe in death penalty simply because often it is administered in cases with serious doubt hanging on the verdict. I believe Troy Davis was one such case.