In a speech to the International Association of Penal Law on Thursday, Pope Francis pointed out many flaws in the criminal justice systems of most countries. He spoke on many issues that needs to be improved on in order to “…respect the dignity and rights of the human person, without discrimination”.
Not surprisingly, Francis spoke about capital punishment and the fact that many countries today have not come up with better punishment than capital punishment. “It is impossible to imagine today that the United cannot have another means not capital punishment for the aggressor to defend the lives of other people.” The church stands against the death penalty for many reasons but the two that Francis spoke about were cases where an innocent has been convicted and when regimes of countries use capital punishment as an “instrument of suppression of political dissidents or persecution of religious and cultural minorities…”
Abolition of death penalty
Francis further stated that “ all Christians and people of good will are….called to fight not only for the abolition of the death penalty, legal or illegal it is, and in all its forms, but also to improve prison conditions, in respect for the human dignity of persons deprived of their liberty.” Conditions in some prisons in the world today for those who have been given life imprisonment – the sentence is only the death penalty hidden.
Detention without trial or conviction.
The conditions of detention, “prisoners sentenced without trial and without conviction – these are not fairy tales: as you well know.” “……is another contemporary form of punishment illegal covert, of the beyond a veneer of legality. ” This is a situation that in some countries is so severe there the number of prisoners without sentence exceeds 50% of the total. “The deplorable conditions of detention that occur in different parts of the planet, are often a real stretch to inhuman and degrading treatment, many times the product of the shortcomings of the criminal justice system, sometimes the lack of infrastructure and planning, while in many cases are nothing more than the result of the arbitrary and ruthless power over persons deprived of their liberty.”
As demonstrated by studies carried out by different bodies for the defense of human rights, the lack of sensory stimuli, the complete lack of communication and the lack of contact with other human beings, causing physical and emotional suffering as paranoia, anxiety, depression and weight loss and significantly increase the tendency to suicide.
Francis then spoke against the torture in clandestine detention centers or in modern concentration camps where prisoners are kidnapped from their country and taken to these torture centers. The legitimization of torture in these conditions, open the way for further and more extensive abuses. “Many states are also responsible for having practiced or tolerated kidnapping in their own territory, including the citizens of their respective countries, or to have authorized the use of their airspace for illegal transportation to detention centers in which they practice torture. These abuses will stop only with the strong commitment of the international community to recognize the primacy of the principle of pro homine, namely the dignity of the human person above all else.”
Last Pope Francis spoke about the crime of trafficking in persons. He pointed out that slavery including trafficking in persons, is recognized as a crime against humanity and as a war crime under international law as much as many national laws. He does not believe this crime can be committed without the acting or omission of the countries that it is occurring in.
There are a billion people trapped in absolute poverty One and a half billion has no access to sanitation, drinking water, electricity, elementary education or the health system and have to endure economic hardship incompatible with a life of dignity. Although the total number of people in this situation has declined in recent years, it has increased their vulnerability, due to the increased difficulties faced to get out of this situation. This is due to the increasing amount of people who live in countries in conflict. Forty-five million people have been forced to flee due to violence or persecution in 2012 alone, of these 15 million are refugees, the highest figure in 18 years. 70% of these people are women. Additionally, it is estimated that in the world, seven out of ten of those who die of hunger are women and girls.