Armed robbers have behaved like beasts — they have killed, maimed, raped and left harrowing memories on their attackers.
The robbers go against all the laws of society. They are people who are ruthless and strike with terror.
Appropriately, therefore, they have been referred to as misfits who should be taken out of society.
Very chilling stories have been narrated by people who have gone through the unfortunate and traumatic experiences of armed robbery attacks. No wonder, sentencing for armed robbery has been harsh all around the world. Depending on the country where it occurs, the maximum sentence can range from life imprisonment to death sentence.
Because of the trauma that armed robbers leave with their victims, contributions to discussions on armed robbery in recent times when robbery is on the ascendancy are understandably laced with anger and the readiness to retaliate.
Some members of society have advocated the death sentence for those found guilty of armed robbery. Others have argued that armed robbers should be given the opportunity to reform by giving them various prison sentences. Yet others think that the right to life is a moral principle based on the belief that a human being has the right to live and, therefore, should not be killed by another human being.
Indeed, some of these robbers have been shot dead by the police.
Without taking sides in this matter, the Daily Graphic would want to draw the country’s attention to the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, Article 3 of which states that everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.
State laws since 1948 have partly been derived from this declaration, to the effect that everyone charged with a criminal offence shall be presumed innocent until proven guilty according to law.
This is imperative. For example, in the United Kingdom in 2008, Professor Graham Zellick, the Chairman of the Criminal Cases Review Commission, said the UK’s Court of Appeal should order retrials in cases that had some doubt about the safety of the conviction.
Prof. Zellick also argued that it was far better for 10 guilty men to go free than one innocent man to be wrongfully convicted.
We share in this sentiment because although the law courts have stringent and very professional mechanisms to ensure justice, we also know from cases around the world that the courts can get things wrong. Examples abound of people who had been found guilty of crimes being later freed because of new evidence. These include people who had already been killed or those who were on death row, waiting to be executed.
It is against this backdrop that we urge the security agencies to be extra careful in their pursuit of robbers who are tormenting the lives of citizens and making the nation unsafe. We encourage them to use all their professional expertise to round the robbers up, interrogate them thoroughly and prosecute those who are found culpable.
But we also know that the ammunition and other anti-crime tools given to the security agencies have state backing and power to help prevent crime.
Thus the law enforcement agencies will use them to protect themselves first and bring crime under control.