Five DUP MPs including Strangford MP Jim Shannon have signed an early day motion to call for a debate into bringing back capital punishment in the United Kingdom.
Mr Shannon said he understood the issue was complex and said that any decision taken would be ‘difficult’
He said: “There are arguments for and against Capital Punishment and I understand those – however it is my belief that people should have their views heard and understand in the House of Commons.
“It is my opinion that this should be discussed again at Westminster to gauge the public opinion of this issue and to determine whether it is prudent to bring back the worst sentence possible in response to horrific crimes.
“Having spoken to the families of victims who simply do not see the criminal justice system as being competent – the debate is necessary and I look forward to hearing all reasoned views on this,” he added.
Patrick Corrigan, Northern Ireland Programme Director of Amnesty International, said there was no need to debate the issue in Parliament as capital punishment should remain ‘a relic from the past’.
He said: “There are many important issues warranting a Commons debate.
“The death penalty is not one of them.
“If there is a Parliamentary debate, Amnesty International will be reminding MPs of its cruelty, its arbitrariness — rich people with good lawyers do not usually receive the death penalty — and of how any capital justice system makes terrible mistakes.
“MPs should also be aware of the total lack of convincing evidence that the death penalty is a deterrent against crime.”
Mr Corrigan said 139 countries had formally abolished the death penalty or no longer use it. “Of those that cling on to it, China is by far the biggest user, followed by Iran and countries like Saudi Arabia, North Korea and Yemen. Do some MPs really want us to join this club?” he asked.
“More and more countries are abandoning the death penalty around the world, it would be a huge backward step to consider seriously its reintroduction here.
“However, I am confident that any informed debate would lead to people dropping their support for judicial killing," added Mr Corrigan.