Monday, February 02, 2004

Marthinus van Schalkwyk has called for the return of the death penalty. That should endear him to his new-found ANC comrades.

More seriously, what people miss when they make this argument is that, for the death penalty to be returned, the Constitution would have to be susbstantially altered. After all, in S v Makwanyane, the Constitutional Court found the death penalty to be inconsistent with the right not to be subjected to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and hinted strongly that it might also be inconsistent with the rights to life and dignity, without deciding the issue. In other words, for the death penalty to be reintroduced, all of these provisions would have to be amended -- either individually, all through some sort of general clause.

Would the New National Party really want that? After all, if certain rights are eroded, why not others, such as the right of whites to retain their property? I think a strong argument can be made that, regardless of what one thinks of the death penalty -- I happen to be against it -- it is in all of our interests, including the NNP's, not to start fiddling with the Bill of Rights.

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