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Death Penalty - can it be humane? - LIVE

| 18:06 UK time, Thursday, 4 October 2007

Hello there - it's actually Alex blogging the programme, on Anna's log-in.

First we're hearing about the simmering situation in Burma - from the BBC's Maung Maung Dhan. He says that people are being taken in the night to labour camps up country. Monasteries in Rangoon are silent, and there is the fear of monks being charged and sent to jail.

Maung Maung Dhan adds that some people are scared by the brutality of the military, but that a lot of student groups are saying that they should continue the struggle.

Do stay with us - we're talking about whether the death penalty can ever be humane....

First we talk to Joachim Jose Martinez, in Valencia, Spain. He's a Spanish national who spent four years on death row in Florida after being wrongly convicted for double murder. He doesn't think the death penalty can ever be administered humanely. He says he agrees that if you commit a crime you should pay for it - he just doesn't believe that the penalty should be death.

We're also joined in the studio by Piers Bannister of Amnesty International. He says he doesn't think that the death penalty can ever be humane - he says it is a basic human right to be free from the death penalty.

Karl in Barbados - who says the murders he has heard of were cruel and unusual punishment, and that there's too much sympathy for murderers. He asks the rest of the panel: if lethal injections cause suffering, should we bring back the guillotine?

We speak to Mung Pi, a Burmese blogger in Delhi, who's been following the situation in Burma. He says there are random checks on passers-by in the streets, especially those carrying mobile phones or cameras, in Rangoon.

Prudentienne, a Rwandan living in the UK, says that she can't see how killing someone can ever be humane. She lost her entire family in the genocide in Rwanda - but she says that she believes those who killed her family were wrong but she doesn't want them to be killed.

John joins us from Toronto, Canada. He says it is possible to have a painless death - but that the question is whether humans have any right to kill each other.

Andrea in Texas says we're running the risk of imposing a paralysing agent which masks any pain that the person is suffering.

Whisper in Houston Texas thinks the death penalty is a necessity because criminals are prone to repeating acts. He also thinks the guards shouldn't have to be caretakers to repugnant people. He says that people on death row have been convicted of egregious behaviour, whereas other people in jail are there because of drug offences.

Here are a few of the many texts we've received during the programme:

Please do not forget the real victims - the reason these people are on death row. An ounce of lead between eyes is quick & painless.
Linda, Malaga. Spain.

If there can be humane killing in the context of euthanasia, then I would presume that execution of condemned criminals can also be humane. The ocassional botched operation is actually an exception.
Rodger Huissen, Netherlands.

Having put down many dogs & cats by "lethal injection", I don t see the problem. As I understand it, it's the same as gen anaesthetic. Is that cruel & unusual?
Chris in Namibia

Death penalty is acceptable if someone is a killer. But not like the Taliban who kill because of a religious difference. Rahmat, Kabul, Afghanistan.


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