(Trinidad Guardian) With murders skyrocketing—399 up to Saturday—Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar says the Government will be making another attempt to reintroduce the death penalty. The “hanging bill” will be reconsidered by Cabinet and taken back to Parliament early next year, Persad-Bissessar announced on Saturday, during the annual Christmas toy distribution in her Siparia constituency.
The Government’s first attempt to pass the The Constitution Amendment (Capital Offences) Bill, known as the hanging bill, was defeated in the House of Representatives in February 2011 after it did not get the requisite support from the Opposition, with a vote of 29 for/11 against. Asked to comment on Trinidad’s ranking as the tenth most violent country in the world, Persad-Bissessar said fighting crime remains the government’s top priority.
“We will continue with initiatives and some new initiatives. In fact, I have asked the Attorney General to bring back the hanging bill for cabinet’s consideration, so we look again to introduce the death penalty for homicides, for murders. We have brought down serious crimes but the murders still remain too high and, therefore, I want Cabinet to reconsider the introduction of the death penalty and to take that legislation to Parliament.”
Asked if she was confident that the death penalty would reduce murders, she said there was empirical data that an effective death penalty contributed to a reduction in murders. Fighting crime, healthcare delivery and a reduction in food prices would remain the government’s top priority in the new year, said Persad-Bissessar.
The Prime Minister added that she had a two-hour meeting with Finance Minister Larry Howai on what projects could safely be put on the back-burner and what should be put on the front-burner in the light of falling oil prices. “We have agreed that social services programmes will remain priority, the National Security Ministry will not be cut. We put those as high priority areas, and health service delivery also as a high priority area.”
Therefore, she said, work would continue on the completion of the Couva Children’s Hospital and construction of the Point Fortin Hospital. With regards to the 20 per cent reduction in National Flour Mill (NFM) products for Christmas, she said she got really good feedback.