UPDATE: Guyana could hold referendum on death penaltyFriday, July 22, 2016
GEORGETOWN, Guyana (CMC) — The Assistant Secretary-General of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ivan Simonovic, says he respects the position taken by President David Granger regarding the abolition of the death penalty in Guyana.
Earlier, Minister of Natural Resources Raphael Trotman said the government is in no rush to remove the death penalty after Justice Pilay
urged Georgetown to move towards abolishing the death penalty as well as to repeal legislation providing for convicted terrorists to be put to
Trotman said government now finds itself in a position where it has been asked to enact laws such as those to avoid being named a “pariah state”.
Related story: Guyana not rushing to eliminate death penalty
However, a subsequent government statement quoted President Granger as saying that he would be guided by advice from the National Assembly and public consensus and even hinted at the possibility of a referendum.
Simonovic, who led a UN delegation that included Justice Navi Pillay, a member of the International Commission against the Death Penalty, met with President Granger and according to the statement issued afterwards, said that the President’s strong statements against assenting to capital punishment and seeking public consultation in the matter must be respected and appreciated.
The statement noted that Granger in a television programme to be aired this weekend, reiterated his position that he did not intend to order the execution of anyone
“I am advised by Cabinet. I am advised by my coalition partners. I am advised by the National Assembly and in the final analysis, by the people of Guyana. Guyana is an independent sovereign state and it is not for me to get ahead of what the people want. I do not envisage any circumstance under which I would be willing to assent to the death penalty even though it remains on the books.”
Granger noted that “there has been a moratorium of over two decades and what I would say is that if the Cabinet were to consider it, if the National Assembly were to consider it and even if there was a deadlock, we can go to a referendum.
“Let the people say what they want to occur in this jurisdiction, in the state of Guyana. That is transparency, that is openness, that is consultation. What do the people want? So that is my approach.”
Simonovic is quoted by the government statement as saying that he is especially appreciative of the President’s insistence on taking a decision only after the citizens of the country have been consulted and their views made known.
“[The] President’s statement that we have heard recently that during his tenure there will not be any execution is very encouraging. I would think that also it is very encouraging that the government is thinking in terms of establishing a committee that will be reflecting on the issue of death penalty.
“It is extremely good because experience in other countries have proven that the more you raise information, the more discussion about the death penalty, there is a strengthening of the trend of moving away from it so we welcome this development very much. We also think that this discussion is a good opportunity to make a formal decision,” Simonovic said.