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Capital Punishment

Does it have a place in an Azadist Society?

By Jassa Singh Nihang

The Definition of Capital Punishment


Capital punishment, also referred to as the death penalty and previously termed judicial homicide, entails the state-endorsed practice of taking a person's life as a consequence for committing a crime. Typically, this occurs through a sanctioned, rule-governed process aimed at determining the individual's culpability for breaching established norms that warrant such punitive measures. The verdict mandating punishment through this method is known as a death sentence, and the act of implementing this sentence is termed an execution. A condemned prisoner, awaiting execution, is commonly described as being "on death row." Etymologically, the term capital originally denoted execution by beheading, although executions can be carried out using various methods, including hanging, shooting, lethal injection, stoning, electrocution, and gassing.

The Pros and Cons of Capital Punishment


Pros of Capital Punishment:

Deterrence: Supporters argue that the death penalty can act as a deterrent to heinous crimes, as potential offenders may be less likely to commit serious crimes if they fear the ultimate punishment.
Retribution: Some people believe that capital punishment is a just form of retribution for the most heinous crimes, providing a sense of closure and justice to the victims' families and society.
Permanent Incapacitation: Capital punishment ensures that the convicted criminal will never have the opportunity to commit another crime, protecting society from potential harm.
Closure for Victims' Families: Supporters contend that the death penalty can offer a sense of closure and satisfaction to the families of victims, allowing them to move on with their lives.
Symbolic Value: The death penalty can symbolize society's strong stance against particularly grave crimes, reinforcing the gravity of these offenses.

Cons of Capital Punishment:

Risk of Wrongful Execution: One of the most significant concerns is the possibility of executing innocent individuals due to flaws in the legal system, including mistaken identity, inadequate legal representation, or new evidence coming to light. (This will be revisited later on).
Ineffectiveness as a Deterrent: Critics argue that there is little evidence to support the claim that the death penalty effectively deters crime. Studies on the topic have produced mixed results.
Moral and Ethical Concerns: Many opponents argue that the death penalty is morally and ethically wrong, as it involves the state taking a human life. They believe that it violates the fundamental right to life and is inhumane. (See section on who would carry out Capital Punishment in an Azadist Society if we were to have it).
Arbitrary Application: There is a perception that the death penalty is often applied arbitrarily and disproportionately to certain racial, ethnic, or socio-economic groups, raising concerns of systemic bias in the criminal justice system.
Costs: The legal process for death penalty cases is often lengthy and expensive, with multiple appeals and trials. Critics argue that it is more costly than life imprisonment and diverts resources from other important areas of law enforcement. (An interesting point considering on how costs will be an important factor in an Azadist society as such a society will plan to do away with Taxes in the Long-run in favour for a Dasvandh type system and how elements such as Law courts will be run by Private Companies that would act in the interests of the People).
International Opinion: Many countries around the world have abolished the death penalty, and international organizations like the United Nations advocate for its abolition, citing concerns about human rights and cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment.
No Possibility of Rehabilitation: Critics argue that the death penalty eliminates the possibility of rehabilitation and redemption for offenders who may change over time.

The debate over capital punishment is complex and multifaceted, with strong arguments on both sides. The decision to support or oppose the death penalty often depends on one's values, beliefs, and perspectives on justice, morality, and the legal system.

Methods of Capital Punishments

A brief summary of the various methods of Capital Punishments carried out in other countries as well as in Past Civilisations:

Capital punishment methods have varied significantly across countries and throughout history. Here's a brief summary of some of the methods used in various countries and past civilizations:
Hanging: This is one of the oldest and most widely used methods of execution. It involves placing a noose around the condemned person's neck and hanging them until they suffocate. Hanging has been used in many countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, and many others.
Firing Squad: In a firing squad execution, a group of trained marksmen aim their firearms at the heart or another vital organ of the condemned person and simultaneously fire. This method has been used in several countries, including the United States and China.
Electric Chair: The electric chair, also known as the "electric chair," is a method of execution in which the condemned person is seated in a specially designed chair and subjected to a high-voltage electric shock. This method has been used in the United States.
Lethal Injection: Lethal injection is one of the most common methods of execution in the United States and some other countries. It involves administering a series of drugs to induce unconsciousness, paralysis, and cardiac arrest. The specific drugs and protocols can vary.
Gas Chamber: In the gas chamber method, the condemned person is placed in a sealed chamber, and a lethal gas, such as hydrogen cyanide, is released to cause death through suffocation. This method has been used in the United States and Nazi Germany.
Guillotine: The guillotine is a device designed to quickly and cleanly decapitate the condemned person. It was famously used during the French Revolution and in some other countries.
Beheading: Beheading, often carried out with a sword or an axe, has been a method of execution in several countries and cultures throughout history. It is still used in some countries today.
Stoning: Stoning involves pelting the condemned person with stones until they die. It has been used in some Islamic countries for certain offenses.
Crucifixion: Crucifixion involves securing the condemned person to a wooden cross and leaving them to die from exposure and exhaustion. It was used in the Roman Empire and some other ancient civilizations.
Public Execution: Various methods of execution, including hanging, beheading, and shooting, have been carried out in public as a form of punishment and deterrence. These executions were often highly ritualized and public spectacles in some societies.

It's important to note that the use of various execution methods has evolved over time, and many countries have abolished the death penalty or moved toward more humane methods of execution in recent years. The acceptability and legality of these methods also vary widely across countries and regions, reflecting cultural, legal, and ethical considerations.

Where and How would Capital Punishment fit in an Azadist Society?


What crimes should be punished using Capital Punishment if it were to be used in an Azadist Society?

Murder
Rape
Paedophilia
Terrorism
(In the true sense of terrorising people – Not freedom fighters)
Human Traffickers
Seriously heinous crimes towards humanity such as Genocide, mass poisoning, those who kidnap and torture people for sadistic purposes.
Treason (?)

Who will carry out the Capital Punishment?


Government (State Courts)?


In Section V: The Role of Government in the Azadist Manifesto, it states that the Azadist State Government’s only role is to maintain the Non-aggression Principle (NAP) and only step in when NAP is violated.

The “non-aggression principle” (NAP) ... is the idea that everyone is free to live however they want to, as long as it does not impede the right for others to do the same. The sole basis on which the government can act is to maintain the NAP.
— Section I of the

It has no other role or power in an Azadist state. However, in order for an Azadist state to not devolve into a tyrannical regime where capital punishment gets abused, the Government once it has intervened to stop the violation of the NAP should then transfer the duties of the actual prosecution to either it’s State Courts or the following options below to determine the final verdict and fate of the criminal.
As mentioned in Section V in the Azadist Manifesto, the government’s role is to simply ensure the NAP is kept intact, however, if you are able to find a way to privatise some of the roles of the justice system still adhering to the constitution, then it’s more Azaad!

Private Courts of Law (PCoLs)?

Since in an Azadist Society, the private sector is the main driver, there may be many companies that can provide this service. This is as opposed to one provider (the state), where everyone is forced to pay into via taxes regardless of its effectiveness. If an Azadist society chooses to be a more decentralised system, then different areas (or those who volunteer to participate in private contracts) may have differing opinions on capital punishment and what crimes should constitute such punishment. Some areas may agree with it some may not. However, if the crime has been committed in an area where that said crime is punishable by capital punishment, then the criminal should be given that sentence.
The only exception to this is if the individual agrees to a contract or joins a Stan which has a contract/constitution containing private laws. However, since the individual can chose to leave this contract at anytime, they can avoid a death penalty.
The long-term vision of an Azadist society is to reduce the government’s role in this matter and grant greater autonomy for Stans in a Stanistan (read about these here: ), in which PCoLs sort out the administration rather than the government.
This would allow for individuals or entire areas (Stans) to have their own contracts which specify certain laws that the people can choose to adhere to. Some of these may have the death penalty and some may not.
So when someone applies to join a Stan or a contract (like Muslim’s may do with Sharia-based contract), then they are consenting to abide by its rules and to accept the punishments if they break them as specified by the contract or private constitution of the Stan.
If someone commits a crime that is punishable by death as specified in the contract they are participating in, then they must accept it or otherwise exit the contract.
Exiting the contract means they must also give up any benefits associated with being in that contract.
E.g If they had a contract to live in a Stan, and as part of that, it gave them a right to rent property or work there, then by exiting the contract they can no longer live or work there. As a result, they are outcasted and no longer permitted to interact with that Stan.
However, this doesn’t mean they get away with the crime though. If the “crime” they committed also violated the NAP (as per the wider Azadist base law system layer), then it would be the responsibility of the central government or Misls to administer the appropriate justice.
So if Azadism permits death penalty it would be that, or if Azadism says no death penalty (which is the current position as outlined in the
), then alternative arrangements will be made.
They won’t simply be able to escape and enter other Stans, since they may have their own policies to deal with criminals from other Stans depending on whether or not they accept the judgement of that Stan.
E.g. 1: In a Sharia-based Stan where apostacy may be punishable by death, that Stan’s government may class an apostate as a criminal, whereas another non-Sharia or non-Islamic Stan may not class that as a crime at all and so may welcome them instead.
E.g. 2: If someone commits a murder and then exits his contract so to avoid any punishments dealt by that contract owner / Stan, then they will have to find another Stan that will accept them. This is unlikely to be the case and so where do they go? This is where two things can happen:
1. A “prison company” (a type of Stan) of sorts takes them in and arranges for a contract where they promise to follow certain rules and live in a certain way. Obviously, since the perpetrator has ruined his reputation his options are fewer (less Stans that he can apply to, less contracts he can enter), and so his bargaining power is lower and the terms are more in favour of the company. The company takes responsibility over the criminal and has to ensure he does not escape and enter another Stan and causes harm since it would be on the companies head. The company will have to pay reparations for any damages incurred by anyone under their contract.
2. The second option is that the Misls / Azadist central government (if short/medium-term will likely be the central government, in long-term will be the Misls), takes him in and confines him to areas that they own or have partnered with above companies with to imprison them there.
This system is not just confined to Stans either. Some areas may be populated by individuals living close together, but adhering to different contracts. For example, you may have two neighbours, one is a Muslim and the other is a Christian. They may be living right next door to each other, but both live in accordance to different personal/private contracts. And these may be completely different to each other. So long as they practice their ways in a way that does not impede the right for the other to do the same (NAP), it is fine. A Muslim’s house (if he owns it) is his own Stan, and his neighbour is another Stan. Or if someone wants to live as per their own contract (or none at all - and so only beholden to wider Azadist NAP base layer law), then they are their own Stan as well. Neither has a right to infringe on the freedom of the others, and this is the role of the Misls / central government to ensure.
The concept of Stanistans and contracts will be explained in more detail in future publications as part of this Vichaar Repo:

PMC’s (The various Misls)?

Once the Private Courts of Law give the verdict and that the criminal has been given the Death Penalty, then the Misls as talked about in Section V of the Azadist Manifesto would be given the duty to carry out the Punishment.
Essentially in an Azadist society, the Misls are a client-based service provider that may have different roles. Some Misls may be PCoLs, other Misls may be an armed outfit that protects communities (police/military function) and others may do both.
So for example, what would happen is that if a crime is committed the victim or his family affected takes the case to a PCoL (which may be a Misl they already subscribe to, has insurance with or books after the crime). It is then investigated and if the accused is found guilty, then the branch of the Misl dealing with execution of the rulings or another Misl (that the accuser again either has a subscription to, has insurance with or books after the matter) is presented with the ruling and is then given permission to enact the justice.

What matches with Azadist Principles more?


As mentioned, many times before, the Government’s role is to simply ensure that the Non-aggression Principle is not violated. We have covered the types of crimes that warrant the Death Penalty in an Azadist Society. As long as the capital punishment just includes those crimes and sticks to the constitution of the state, then it is less likely to become abused. Another check would be that as the Azadist state becomes more decentralised, then the people in each area whether it be a city or a small town or village can decide whether they want to legalise capital punishment or not. This falls in line with what is written in the “Contracts and Law” part of where individual with regards to drawing up contracts between certain parties.

Law_Layers.png

For example, the people in a particular city (Stan) of an Azadist state may decide to agree to a contract where capital punishment is legal in their city and anyone who commits a crime that is punishable by the death penalty is bound by it. This would include individuals not from that area that may have committed a crime punishable by death in that area. Therefore, people entering that particular city would also have to sign a contract while residing in that city that also binds them to the capital punishment if they commit a crime punishable by death while in that city. This would then also act as a deterrent to outsiders not to commit those crimes in that area. However, once those individuals leave that city then the contract is made null. If they were to return to that city on a later date then a new contract would need to be signed as each contract for a visitor to the city would only last for the duration of time within that particular place.

Of course, if the people that reside in that particular city with a capital punishment contract decide to have a change of heart, then they have 2 options:
Leave the city and their contract automatically becomes void in that area.
The people can choose as a collective to end the contract and therefore the city will no longer have the death penalty in place. However, the NAP base law layer in line with constitution will still be in effect.

See above paragraphs for how the PCoLs will deal with contracts and cases.

How can we stop Capital Punishment from being abused?


False Accusations

Can capital punishment be done on an innocent person that may have falsely been accused or even framed? Capital punishment in the UK had been banned for the following reasons:
The last executions in the United Kingdom, which occurred in August 1964, involved the hanging of Peter Anthony Allen and Gwynne Owen Evans. There is no definitive evidence to suggest that they were innocent of the crimes for which they were executed. However, their case did lead to significant controversy and debate about the use of the death penalty in the UK. It was later revealed that there were doubts about their guilt, and their executions were a catalyst for the growing movement against capital punishment in the country.
The case of Timothy Evans, who was wrongly executed in 1950 for a murder he did not commit, also played a crucial role in influencing public opinion and contributing to the eventual abolition of the death penalty in the UK. Evans was posthumously pardoned in 1966, and his case highlighted the risks of wrongful convictions and the irreversibility of the death penalty.
While there may not be conclusive evidence of innocence in the case of the last executions in the UK, the controversy surrounding these cases and the broader concerns about the potential for miscarriages of justice were instrumental in shaping the debate on capital punishment in the country and ultimately led to its abolition.

Guidance for Capital Punishment

What procedures could Private Courts of Law put in place to ensure that Capital Punishment is not abused and that people are NOT wrongly convicted?

Implementing procedures to minimize the risk of innocent people being wrongly sentenced to death is crucial in countries that still have the death penalty. While no system can completely eliminate the possibility of errors, there are several safeguards and best practices that can be put in place to reduce the risk:
Effective Legal Representation: Ensure that every defendant facing the death penalty has access to qualified and experienced legal counsel. This may involve appointing public defenders with expertise in capital cases.
Presumption of Innocence: Uphold the principle of "innocent until proven guilty." The burden of proof should rest with the prosecution, and they must demonstrate guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Quality of Legal Defence: Enforce standards for the quality of legal representation in capital cases, including mandatory training for defence lawyers and adequate funding for defence investigations.
Expert Witnesses: Allow defence teams to access expert witnesses who can provide testimony on forensic evidence, mental health issues, and other relevant factors that may impact the defendant's case.
Eyewitness Identification Procedures: Implement best practices for conducting eyewitness identification procedures to reduce the risk of misidentifications. This may include double-blind line up procedures and clear instructions to witnesses.
Recording Interrogations: Require the electronic recording of all interrogations to prevent coercion, false confessions, and misconduct by law enforcement.
DNA Testing: Establish mechanisms for post-conviction DNA testing to review cases and potentially exonerate wrongfully convicted individuals.
Review of Evidence: Create post-conviction review processes to examine the validity of convictions, especially in cases where new evidence emerges.
Clemency and Appeals Process: Ensure that the clemency process is transparent and includes an independent review of evidence and circumstances. Provide multiple layers of appellate review to catch errors.
Transparency and Accountability: Make all aspects of the criminal justice system, including evidence, trial transcripts, and court proceedings, as transparent as possible to ensure public accountability.
Experienced Judges and Juries: Appoint judges and select jurors who have experience and training in capital cases and can make informed decisions based on the evidence presented.
Mental Health Assessments: Conduct thorough mental health assessments to identify any mental illness or intellectual disabilities that may affect a defendant's culpability.
International Human Rights Standards: Adhere to international human rights standards and agreements that call for the protection of the rights of individuals facing the death penalty.
Data Collection and Analysis: Continuously collect and analyse data on death penalty cases to identify patterns, trends, and potential sources of error.
Moratorium on Executions: Consider a temporary moratorium on executions while reviewing and improving the capital punishment system to reduce the risk of wrongful convictions.

It's important to note that the effectiveness of these procedures depends on their proper implementation and oversight. No system can guarantee the complete elimination of errors, but a commitment to fairness, transparency, and continuous improvement can help reduce the risk of innocent people being sentenced to death.

Alternatives to Capital Punishment


Rehabilitation centres for lesser crimes
Compensation
Fines for lesser crimes
Not to be paid to the government but to the victim/victims’ families.
Prisons
However, corruption exists in the prison systems in existing countries and it costs the people as they pay taxes to keep them running. How would an Azadist society deal with this/change this especially as it plans to do away with Tax altogether?
Banishment to remote areas
Though this may not always be a practical method.
Community Service for lesser crimes
Such as petty theft, especially one who steals out of desperation out of poverty or starvation. In this case they can help do Langar di seva or Joriya di seva and then be provided langar to rid their hunger and help them get out of poverty with opportunities.

Itihaasic examples from the Sikh Kingdom of Lahore


The Daku’s Challenge

Laws that Protect the Weak and Nurture the Strong
An example of when during Ranjit Singh’s Raj where he encountered a Notorious Daku who his government was after. The Daku had challenged anyone in Ranjit Singh’s Kingdom to capture him and whoever could do it the Daku himself would reward them. Ranjit Singh himself accepted the challenge and managed to outwrestle the Daku. Pleased with the Daku’s fighting skill. Ranjit Singh enrolled him into his Khalsa Army. Dakus would be given employment into the Khalsa Army so that they would earn a wage and therefore would no longer steal from the people but would use their skills to protect them instead.

The Execution of Sada Kaur

Maharaja Ranjit Singh was only known to execute one person during his reign with the death penalty and that was Sardarni Sada Kaur of the Kanhaiya Misl. Sada Kaur was Ranjit Singh’s Mother-in-law who had helped him become the man he was known for during his early days. However, Sada Kaur wanted to hold on to her lands despite Ranjit Singh putting pressure on her to give them to his son and her Grandson Sher Singh. Not willing to part with her estate she went to the British East India Company on the other side of the Satluj river and started negotiations with them. This infuriated Ranjit Singh who saw this as an act of treachery. He thought with Sada Kaur becoming a protectorate of the British, it would allow them to cross the Satluj river effectively allowing them to encroach further into Panjab and into his territory. Therefore, he swiftly ordered her capture and execution in order to halt further negotiations.
This is the one case you tend to hear of Ranjit Singh employing capital punishment on the grounds of treason. From the Sikh perspective and a political perspective, if doing this maintained our sovereignty, then was it justified? Hence why I put a (?) next to treason in the what crimes should be punished section above as treason is a serious crime, but can be a label that can be weaponised.
However, those lands belonged to Sada Kaur (and the Kanhaiya Misl) so the situation is complex and nuanced. You could argue that Sada Kaur by negotiating with the British did the people within her territory a disservice by allowing a foreign entity to take charge in an indirect way. We saw what would happen with Cis-Satluj Sikh states that asked for British protection and then try to regain full autonomy later on. In this case it therefore, may have been justified for Ranjit Singh to have carried out the Penalty on Sada Kaur in the wider interest of the Sikh Panth’s sovereignty.


Final Thoughts


My final thoughts/views and conclusions on the subject of the use of capital punishment in an Azadist state.
Capital punishment is a very complex subject as different civilizations, cultures, philosophies, religions and countries over human history have had their own take on it.
Ultimately, an Azadist society is one that should live in accordance with Laws of Nature/Divine Law/Karamic Law which simply means DO NOT murder, steal, rape, trespass or coerce anyone. Do not commit violence on anyone and do not infringe on anyone’s rights. The rights of freedom/sovereignty of each individual on this planet and in the universe is given by Akaal Purakh themselves and the Sikh Gurus reminded us of this. Force is different from violence and is allowed in accordance with Natural Law/Divine Law/Karamic Law. If one is under attack, then that individual can use the means necessary to defend themselves. For example, if an individual is a serial killer and goes on a murdering spree, and attacks you with killer intent, then you can use the necessary means to defend yourself. This may involve pulling a weapon out and killing them before they murder you. Force is the capacity to do work or cause physical change; energy, strength, active power. Whereas violence is violating other people’s rights. The local communities can also decide how to deal with threats. It is times like this where capital punishment may play a part.
Force vs Violence.png
*Image taken from Mark Passio’s
If we were to apply such as system in an Azadist state then what I have written in the above sections would be how I would implement it. It may not be applied in all areas, however, the contracts system as talked about in Section V of the Manifesto and the examples given above would be the best way to do it. That way people in both camps can decide in their respective areas whether to have it or not as an addition to the universal NAP Layer of Law. This best represents the Azaad way as it is decentralised in nature.
Or alternatively if an Azadist state agrees to have capital punishment everywhere within its borders then, you could implement it only for the crimes listed above. Then if certain areas want to add more crimes, then that’s where the contracts system mentioned in Section V of the Manifesto and above would come in. If we can implement a system where capital punishment will not be abused by the state or by the Private sector then I am for it, even with the decentralised contracts system. However, the capital punishment techniques should be as quick as possible in line with the Jhatka principle**. Otherwise, if it is open to abuse then its best not to implement it.
**(Jhatka Principle - To kill with one blow, as painless and quick as possible and to reduce suffering as much as possible.)

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