T&T Govt ‘committed’ to keeping death penalty

(Trinidad Express) Attorney General Anand Ramlogan says Government is committed to ensuring the death penalty for convicted murderers is implemented.

Ramlogan was responding yesterday to the call by the Inter American Commission on Human Rights—to several Caribbean countries including Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados—to impose a moratorium in the application of the death penalty.

On Tuesday, the Commission said it had examined the death penalty situation in Barbados, Cuba, Guatemala, Guyana, Grenada, Jamaica, the Bahamas, Trinidad and Tobago and the United States during the last 15 years.

It said: “Taking into account these standards and developments in the region, and in light of the objective of gradually eliminating the death penalty in the inter-American system, the Commission urges the OAS (Organisation of American States) member states that still have the death penalty to abolish it or, at least, to impose a moratorium to its application.”

Ramlogan said yesterday Government is in full support of the implementation of the death penalty because it still part of the law in Trinidad and Tobago.

“I do not think that the Government will be in support of the abolition of the death penalty,” Ramlogan said, in a telephone interview.

“What we are in support of, which was reflected in the Constitutional Amendment (Capital Offences) Bill which we tabled in Parliament (in 2011) and provided for the categorisation of murders. It was intended to reserve the death penalty for the most heinous of murders, which is similar to what obtains in the US where you have murder in varying degrees. So for example, crimes of passion and so on and where you have extenuating circumstances, could be dealt with in a different way. In such an instance the death penalty is not mandatory or automatic.

“The Opposition had objected to the categorisation and, in order to gain their support, we had amended the Bill on the floor to remove the categories. We indicated that we were prepared to move from that policy position to accede to the Opposition’s request and keep the death penalty for all murders and they still did not support the amendment.”

Asked if Government, because of its stance, will consider severing ties with international human rights bodies, Ramlogan said it is not a consideration.

“This is not a new position that some international bodies have taken. It is a very old debate and there have not been any such moves by either party. There are several countries where the death penalty remains valid law. There is no international consensus that the death penalty is cruel and inhumane,” Ramlogan said.

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