News

Barbados to abolish mandatory death penalty

Thursday, March 27, 2014    

Print this page Email A Friend!


KINGSTON, Jamaica (AP) — The Caribbean island of Barbados plans to abolish its mandatory death penalty for murder convictions — a penalty that the government has bypassed for three decades.

No killer has been executed in Barbados since 1984 despite the law, but Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite told reporters Tuesday that the automatic penalty should be formally dropped. He said the government is preparing legislation to remove the clause that prevents judges from taking into account the circumstances in which a slaying was committed or other mitigating factors.

Brathwaite expects there will be considerable public opposition to the change because many people in Barbados "feel that once you commit murder you should forfeit your lives."

"I know it will be a battle, but ....I believe that it is a better path for the country," he said, adding that the government will engage islanders in a public dialogue on the issue.

Human rights groups such as Amnesty International have long criticised the Caribbean island's mandatory death penalty as too harsh and in breach of international law. There is a similar mandatory death penalty law for convicted murderers in Trinidad & Tobago, which has not executed anyone since 1999.

Even though capital punishment is on the books in a number of English-speaking Caribbean islands and polls indicate strong support for the death penalty, executions are rare in the region. The last one was in St. Kitts & Nevis in 2008, when Charles Laplace was hanged for murdering his wife. That was the region's first outside Cuba since an execution in the Bahamas in 2000.

Politicians of former British colonies have long complained that the London-based Privy Council, the highest appeal court for many Caribbean countries, has stymied their attempts to execute murderers. The regional Caribbean Court of Justice is the highest court of appeal for Barbados, Belize and Guyana.

Capital punishment has been abolished for decades in the Spanish-speaking Dominican Republic, and the death penalty is not used in French, British and Dutch dependencies in the Caribbean. Religious and cultural opposition to the death penalty holds sway in the U.S. Caribbean island of Puerto Rico, where jurors often reject federal prosecutors' request for capital punishment.

ADVERTISEMENT

POST A COMMENT

HOUSE RULES

 

1. We welcome reader comments on the top stories of the day. Some comments may be republished on the website or in the newspaper – email addresses will not be published.

2. Please understand that comments are moderated and it is not always possible to publish all that have been submitted. We will, however, try to publish comments that are representative of all received.

3. We ask that comments are civil and free of libellous or hateful material. Also please stick to the topic under discussion.

4. Please do not write in block capitals since this makes your comment hard to read.

5. Please don't use the comments to advertise. However, our advertising department can be more than accommodating if emailed: advertising@jamaicaobserver.com.

6. If readers wish to report offensive comments, suggest a correction or share a story then please email: community@jamaicaobserver.com.

7. Lastly, read our Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy



comments powered by Disqus
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

Poll

Have you seen an improvement in the Government’s handling of the chik-V outbreak?
Yes
No


View Results »


ADVERTISEMENT

Today's Cartoon

Click image to view full size editorial cartoon
ADVERTISEMENT