AQA GCSE “Capital punishment can never be justified.” Evaluate this statement. (12 marks).

Capital punishment is otherwise known as the death penalty and is administered by many different cultures across the world.

In Islamic countries such as Saudi Arabia, capital punishment is used in accordance with Sharia Law. Sharia law outlines what actions are halal (permissible) and which are haram (impermissible); the Saudi theocracy then decides how to correctly punish those who act against the law. For example, if someone is guilty of murder, they could be executed for their crimes. Alternatively, one could also be executed for religious crimes like adultery or homosexuality. These are far more controversial and have been widely criticised by Amnesty International. Nevertheless, within the interpretation of Sharia Law in Saudi Arabia, Capital punishment is certainly justifiable in a number of different circumstances.

Alternatively, there are Christian teachings which suggest that killing in any circumstance should be condemned as wrong. The Catholic Church teach that all people are made “imago dei” (in God’s image); which provides reason to believe that all life is sacred. The Ten Commandments in the book of Exodus also state that “Thou shalt not murder”, leading many to view capital punishment as hypocritical because you are continuing to do wrong by responding to crime with another crime.

However, there are also teachings in the Bible which point to capital punishment. The book of Leviticus claims “whoever takes a human life shall surely be put to death” and similar statements are also found in Exodus and Genesis. Others might also highlight God’s own wrath in the Bible stories of Sodom and Gomorrah and The Flood in which God punishes many people with death due to their sins.

To conclude, whilst many people reject the death penalty it is clear, within certain religions and cultures, that there are crimes which are seen as serious enough to warrant this punishment. Therefore, it can sometimes be justified.


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