By Erica Laster
Impunity Watch Reporter, North America
PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad – In an effort to deter crime, the People’s Partnership Coalition of Trinidad is discussing legislation which would resume executions of criminals. The Trinidad and Tobago Humanist society strongly opposes the position, noting that the death penalty has not reduced crime in any country employing the measure.
3,335 murders were committed in Trinidad and Tobago from 2002-2010 according to figures produced by the government. No countries have shown a reduction in crime due to the use or existence of the death penalty. TTHS called attention to the fact that “One notable comparison is between Canada, where the death penalty was abolished in 1976, and the U.S., where it was reinstated that same year after a ten-year moratorium. American homicide rates rose after the 1976 reinstatement, while Canadian homicide rates declined after its abolition.”
Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar is a strong supporter of the new legislation. “Mothers have lost their sons and daughters, children are left motherless and fatherless. Homes left without incomes, families destroyed and forced into poverty and worse,” she argued. Bissessar believes the death penalty is the solution to many of these problems.
Bissessar contends that criminals have been using Trinidad’s laws in order to gain more time and avoid the death penalty.
The 1994 Pratt and Morgan case, decided by the London based Privy Council, mandates that convicted killers in Trinidad receive the death penalty by hanging within 5 years of being sentenced. The appeals process has allowed many convicted killers to use loopholes to avoid this law. Their right to seek further review by International governing bodies of which Trinidad is a member despite exceeding the 5 year deadline was upheld by the Privy Council in 1999.
As the highest court for many Caribbean countries, some have complained that the Privy Council impedes their ability to carry out the death penalty in accordance with their laws.
The proposed legislation provides that the murder of certain judiciary members and government officials carries a mandatory death sentence. Further, it indicates the circumstances under which a person may receive a conviction for involuntary homicide.
No execution has been carried out in Trinidad since 1999.
For More Information Please Visit:
IPS News – Trinidad Aims To Bypass Privy Council On Death Penalty – 20 January 2011
MSNBC – Trinidad PM Wants Better Death Penalty Enforcement – 15 January 2011
Dominican News – New Moves To Implement Death Penalty In Trinidad – 22 January 2011