Some wrongly state that executions are a human rights violation. The human rights violation argument often comes from European leadership and human rights organizations.

The argument is as follows: Life is a fundamental human right.  Therefore, taking it away is a fundamental violation of human rights.

Those who say that the death penalty is a human rights violation have no solid moral or philosophical foundation for making such a statement.  What opponents of capital punishment really are saying is that they just don’t approve of executions.

Certainly, both freedom and life are fundamental human rights.  On this, there is virtually no disagreement.  However, again, virtually all agree, that freedom may be taken away when there is a violation of the social contract. Freedom, a fundamental human right, may be taken away from those who violate society’s laws.  So to is the fundamental human right of life forfeit when the violation of the social contract is most grave.

No one disputes that taking freedom away is a different result than taking life away.  However, the issue is the incorrect claim that taking away fundamental human rights — be that freedom or life — is a human rights violation.  It is not.  It depends specifically on the circumstances. 

How do we know?  Because those very same governments and human rights stalwarts, rightly, tell us so.  Universally, both governments and human rights organizations approve and encourage taking away the fundamental human right of freedom, as a proper response to some criminal activity.

Why do governments and human rights organizations not condemn just incarceration of criminals as a fundamental human rights violation?  Because they think incarceration is just fine.

Why do some of those same groups condemn execution as a human rights violation? Only because they don’t like it.  They have no moral or philosophical foundation for calling execution a human rights violation.

In the context of criminals violating the social contract, those criminals have voluntarily subjected themselves to the laws of the state.  And they have knowingly placed themselves in a position where their fundamental human rights of freedom and life are subject to being forfeit by their actions.

Opinion is only worth the value of its foundation.  Those who call execution a human rights violation have no credible foundation for that claim.  What they are really saying is “We just don’t like it.”

Dudley Sharp, Justice Matters
e-mail,  713-622-5491,
Houston, Texas

Pro death penalty sites

My focus has been on violent crime issues and what can be done, within the criminal justice and legislative systems, to lessen injury to the innocent and to prosecute the guilty.  To accomplish that goal, involvement in community education, elections, legislation, victim’s rights issues, including assistance in individual cases are all important.

5 thoughts on “The Death Penalty: Not a Human Rights Violation

  • September 1, 2012 at 9:36 pm

    My step father is on deathrow for killing my mother..Took me many years to see the death penalty is wrong, and me wanting him dead wasnt really justice, it was my revenge.

  • September 1, 2012 at 10:16 pm


    I am very sorry for the murder of your mother.

    There is a difference between an individual wanting revenge and the imposition of sanction by a criminal justice system ruled by due process.

    The death penalty is sought for the same reason all legal sanctions are, which is a just, appropriate and proportional sanction.

    I would like to see your reasoning for saying the death penalty is wrong.

    Those of us who support it, find it to be justice. Less justice is not what we need.

  • September 3, 2012 at 4:24 pm

    Hello Jeanniecollum,

    I am so sorry for the loss of your mother.

    You posted: “Took me many years to see the death penalty is wrong”

    As a homicide survivor I would be very interested in knowing why you have changed your mind about the death penalty and what information or feelings changed your mind. I would also be interested to know, if you don’t mind sharing, what your relationship was with your Stepfather before he murdered your mother and now as you wait for the death penalty to be carried out.


  • May 14, 2014 at 1:06 pm

    Is dropping them in a cage with a lion considered execution? If they survive and are able to kill it with their bare hands they get to go free.


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