The Justice Institute Guyana (JIG) is calling on the government to begin an immediate public education campaign with a view to abolishing the death penalty no later than midnight on the 25th May 2016, the eve of the country’s 50th anniversary of independence.
In a statement to mark today’s observance of Cities for Life Day – Abolition of the Death Penalty, the JIG also implored the government to begin immediately a national inquiry into the causes and factors which contribute to murder in Guyana.
The statement noted that while over 414m South Americans can join in today’s celebrations as they live in countries that have abolished the death penalty, only one tiny group, Guyanese, have been left out.
The JIG said that despite years of argument and research no-one has yet come up with credible evidence to establish beyond reasonable doubt that the death penalty deters murder.
“The factors that lead to murder in a society are too complex to be solved by killing a few more people. Clinging to the death penalty out of emotion is exactly the wrong thing to do. It is a distraction from effective action. How many citizens have to die before society accepts that the death penalty does not work?” the statement asked.
The JIG said that it believes that the pivotal question is, “What does Guyana have to do to eliminate murder from this society?” The answers to that question must be based on evidence and require Guyana to find out what factors contribute to its high murder rate and what can be done to reduce or eliminate those factors.
Stating that the Guyanese people did not choose to have the death Penalty but it was a result of colonialism, the JIG said: “On 26th May 2016, Guyana will celebrate 50 years as an independent state. The Justice Institute Guyana calls on the Government of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana to begin an immediate public education campaign with a view to abolishing the death penalty no later than midnight on the 25th May 2016”.
It declared that the Golden Jubilee of Independence “should not be tainted by such a barbaric remnant of colonialism as the death penalty”.