A ruling party leader said Thursday that South Korea should end its de-facto moratorium on capital punishment and swiftly execute those convicted of rape or serial murders, amid a nationwide outrage over the brutal rape and killing of a 13-year-old girl.This is completely the wrong reaction, mostly for the reasons I have mentioned before.
"Public opinion is boiling to a point where people want swift executions of rapists and serial killers on death row who have given up on being a human being. That is also in line with justice and the rule of law," said Ahn Sang-soo, floor leader of the Grand National Party, at a meeting of the party's supreme council.
The remark came amid an uproar after a 13-year-old girl was found dead over the weekend, about two weeks after she went missing in the southeastern port city of Busan. Police have determined that she was raped before being murdered, and a 33-year-old suspect was apprehended on Wednesday near the scene of the crime.
South Korea still issues the death penalty, but has not carried out an execution since February 1998 when then President Kim Dae-jung -- who was himself sentenced to death in 1980 but later pardoned -- took office.
In 2007, Amnesty International categorized South Korea as a country that has "virtually abolished capital punishment," as it has not carried out an execution since late 1997, when 23 convicts were executed.
What South Korea needs to try first is stepped up law enforcement, better surveillance and longer sentences for repeat sex offenders, education to spot sexual abuse, and a host of other things. One thing the authorities are considering doing is to retroactively implement the Sex Offenders Law, which would require sex offenders to wear electronic anklets for monitoring even if they were convicted before the provision was made law.
And when so many police stations represent the quality of CSI technology from the Sherlock Holmes era, how much faith should we have that "swift executions" will never snare the wrong person. In the past, South Korean law enforcement had a bad habit of finding some body when there was nobody to arrest. Heck, the US was not much better, as we've seen with some of the people released from death row in the past years.
No, bringing back the death penalty for quicker executions is not the answer and it won't decrease such tragedies as this girl's brutal death one iota. Try again.