Good And Bad Arguments Against the Death Penalty
Yet particularly here in Sweden and in most other European countries, the death sentence is condemned and people say it is in principle wrong with executions-even for a mass murdering tyrant like Saddam. But on what ground are the death penalty supposed to be wrong on principle?
Is it because it is always wrong to kill someone? That everyone has a right to life, and that the justice system cannot violate the normal moral laws? But if it is wrong with the death penalty because murder is wrong, isn't prison and fines wrong because kidnapping and theft is wrong? This argument is not really an argument against death penalty, but against all forms of punishment.
The point is that criminals by not respecting other people's rights have given up their moral claim on others to respect their rights. And as murderers have chosen that they do not respect other people's right not be killed, they cannot claim any right not to be killed by others.
There is another argument against death penalty which is basically valid: namely that if you execute someone and later find out he was innocent you can't free and compensate him. That would by contrast be possible with life imprisonment. For this reason and because life imprisonment is almost as tough punishment as the death penalty, I am basically content with having that as toughest punishment.
But in murder cases where there is zero doubt about guilt, like the case of Saddam Hussein, it is just to execute them.