Sunday, 18 July 2010

Victims , All .

Human rights campaigners have called for compassion and amnesty for long-serving condemned prisoners who have shown remorse for their crimes and those who are deemed to be " now harmless" to the society .
However , the clamour to bring back the Death Sentence and to make life sentences actually "life" in the UK Justice System ,has become stronger by the day .
The argument for this clamour is that justice should be the human rights of the victims of crimes and their loved ones and not for the criminals.
Majority of the members of the public strongly believe that ,pardon should not be freely dispensed to the guilty who ask for it, just because they are able to present convincing arguments for their release.
To buttress these arguments are statistics confirming that, many paroled and released criminals have , indeed, gone on to commit more atrocities soon after their release!

First hand encounters with remorseful condemned "lifers", who desire a reprieve after decades of imprisonment would convince one of the need for mercy and amnesty from the State , towards these incarcerated citizens of the UK , who desire to breath the air of freedom , once again, before they die.
But after meeting with the victims of their crimes , one would be torn between these two arguments for convicts to be or not to be released and pardoned.
I have been privileged to meet and discussed with many of such victims of crimes in recent years .
One of them is Richard McCann , a victim of Peter Sutcliffe ; whose mother Wilma McCann , was the very first victim of Peter Sutcliffe , the Yorkshire Ripper.
He stabbed her 14 times in 1975!
Little Richard was just 5 years old when his mother was murdered.
The trauma of his loss has left him and his siblings scarred , for life.
I met and spoke with Richard during a seminar in Cheltenham in February, 2009; at which he was one of the guest speakers and after which he did a book signing of his best-seller: " Just A Boy - The True Story of a Stolen Childhood ".
I wrote " Amazing Grace !", a blog about that encounter with Richard ; on this website on 24th February, 2009.
After that encounter and after reading his book; I became further convinced that the real victims of crimes are not only the dead or injured actual victims but also their loved ones who are " collateral victims", who suffer and are, just as well affected by the pain and hurt caused by such crimes .
Often , not recognised are the sufferings of innocent families of the criminals. They too suffer shame and pain because of their relation to these convicts.
Some of such families have had their lives torn apart .

Outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London; Richard who had attended the court hearing , spoke to the BBC News, expressing his relief after the court ruling that the notorious serial killer must spend the rest of his life behind bars.
He described the ruling as "small justice for my mum!"
These were the words of Theresa Toth , another victim of Sutcliffe :
"I'll never forget that face !"
Then Theresa Sykes, she was 16 when she was attacked with 3 hammer blows on her head by Peter Sutcliffe , near her home in Huddersfield on Bonfire night 1980.
She was fortunate to survive and live to tell her story of the harrowing encounter with Sutcliffe.
Recently, she returned to the scene of the deadly attack with the BBC's Home Affairs correspondent, June Kelly, and recalled events of that night.
"He should never be let out, at all !", Theresa concluded.

Judge John Mitting ruled on Friday that ''early release provisions'' were not to apply in the case of the Sutcliffe , the Yorkshire Ripper.
The judge said he had based his decision on the ''moving accounts of the great loss and widespread permanent harm'' in statements by relatives of six murdered victims.
''This was a campaign of murder which terrorised the population of a large part of Yorkshire for several years,'' he said.
''The only explanation for it, on the jury's verdict, was anger, hatred and obsession. Apart from a terrorist outrage, it is difficult to conceive of circumstances in which one man could account for so many victims.
''Those circumstances alone make it appropriate to set a whole life term.''
Justice has been served to all the victims in this saga of Peter Sutcliffe Coonan.
However , like in all such cases ,the sad facts are, there are no victors.
There are only victims and wasted lives of both the criminals and their victims.
Just a long list of pathetic statistics of wasted , promising lives ; cut short in their prime.

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