A draft law introducing amendments to some legislative acts of Ukraine (concerning the introduction of the death penalty as punishment) was registered in the Verkhovna Rada. The authors of the document are first deputy Parliament’s speaker Ihor Kaletnik, Communist Party faction leader Petro Symonenko and Communist Party MP Ihor Alekseyev. The draft bill stipulates for introduction of death pentalty for such grave crimes as intended murder, terrorism, production and distribution of illegal drugs, as well as robbery with extreme violence and mobstery.

As a reminder, one of the obligatory requirements for Council of Europe membership is absence of death penalty as. For this Ukraine banned death sentences in 1995. However, death sentences were still on practice, as the moratorium was recognized as adopted with violation of the procedure. It could lead to Kyiv's expulsion from the Council of Europe, thus Ukraine's authorities banned death penalty once again in 1997, and nobody has been sentenced to death ever since.

On December 29, 1999 the Constitutional Court of Ukraine ruled that death penalty contradicted the Constitution of Ukraine, and in such a way closed the door to its renewal. In 2000 the parliament of Ukraine introduced changes to the Criminal Code, withdrawing the notion "death penalty" from the official list of punishments in Ukraine. In February 2010, the parliament of Ukraine again rejected the draft bill on renewal of death penalty for grave crimes.

ForUm has asked experts and politicians on whether there is a point to return to this issue at the legislative level. 

Oleksandr Paliy, independent expert, political scientist:

- Communists have always been bloodthirsty, but when you ask them to answer for all their crimes of XX century, they immediately become humanists. I believe that deciding on the death penalty issue we must proceed from Ukrainian traditions. Prince Vladimir Monomakh once wrote: "Do not kill either innocent or guilty. Life and soul of a Christian is sacred."

Moreover, in old times death penalty was not a method of torture, but a solution for overcrowded prisons and prisoners' maintenance problems. The idea was to prevent repeated crimes. In modern world it is rather difficult to break out of prison, thus death penalty is not a necessity. Even if it is introduced, it should be applied only to unprecedented cases. Besides, there must be a certain period of time given between the sentence and its execution for a man to be saved in case of new circumstances.

In addition, the state must provide the right for pardon. This the way all civilized counties follow. In the United States, for example, death penalty is still in use but rather rarely. However, communists have a different concept, and I am afraid nothing reasonable can be expected from them.

Evhen Leshan, political expert:

- It is considered 'cool' to say that death penalty is "antidemocratic", that Western Europe does not do this, etc. But the fact is that Ukraine and West live under different conditions. Moreover, Europe and the US do practice death penalty. Of course, there are certain negative moments in renewal of death penalty, but there are advantages as well. A thief must stay in prison, and a murder must bear adequate punishment. Besides, we can save a lot of budget money, being spent for maintenance of such prisoners.

Tetyana Yablonska, lawyer, human rights activist:

Such a statement is just a publicity stunt of the party, which loses its voters. I call them social actors, who play specific roles to please voters. That's it. Even if we consider the matter at a legal level, the return of the death penalty will not cause reduce in crimes. I'll tell you more: China has the death penalty, and, yet, crime rate is high there.

In my opinion, one thing is to be sentenced to death penalty and lose your life for a few seconds, and another thing is to know that you will never be able to get out from prison. Therefore, serious crimes should be punished with life sentence.

There is one more point. Given our imperfect justice, people, not even involved in the crime, are often sentenced to life imprisonment. Moreover, grave crimes must be considered by a jury, which we do not have in our judicial system.

Deterioration of the crime situation, on one hand, is connected with the policy of all-permissiveness for certain people. On the other hand, it is connected with the impoverishment of society. There is no middle class in Ukraine. Thus, the preconditions for crime are laid. The introduction of the death penalty is not the case.

Stanyslav Kulchynski, Doctor of historical Sciences, deputy director of the Institute of history of Ukraine:

- I believe Ukraine must move closer to Europe, not Asia. Europe does not practice death penalty. As for the US, not all states have death penalties in the Criminal Code. There is always a chance of legal mistake. It happens that people sentenced for serial killing, for example, turn out to be innocent.

But it is not the only matter. Death penalty is when a state kills its citizen. From the moral point of view, the state gives a bad example for the society. Let's go back in history and analyze the first world war. The result of that war was nationwide rancor. Communists used this rancor for their terrorist policy, and in the result, we had genocide. It is obvious that we cannot come back to the times communists are dreaming about.

Vasyl Durdynets, aide of interior minister of Ukraine:

- I think it is inexpedient to return to death penalty, because the majority of civilized countries have abandoned this practice. At the time, Ukraine supported such policy and introduced life sentence as the capital punishment. Moreover, there are no guarantees that death penalty will somehow improve the criminal situation in the country. For this, we must focus on proper education and preventive measures, not on stiffening of punishment.

Ihor Alekseyev, MP from Communist party:

- Intended murder, terrorism, drug business, robbery with extreme violence and mobstery must be punished adequately. Criminal situation in Ukraine is extremely grave. For 9 months of 2012 Interior Ministry departmetns registered 400 thousand crimes, including 11.5 thousand of especially grave crimes.  It means that every 35 minutes there is a crime committed in the country.

Robbery with extreme violence, assaults and mobstery must be punished more severely than our Criminal Code stipulates. I want to point out that 58 states have and practice death penalty, including the US, China, Japan and others.

In the US, for example, 33 states apply death penalty to such grave crimes as intended murder, rape, robbery, treason, malicious desertion, etc. In 2012, there were 43 death sentences executed in nine states and other 77 death sentences pronounced.


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