Please allow me the opportunity to clarify a few issues raised by Mr Anthony Pantlitz (‘Why does the EU want us to get rid of capital punishment so badly?’ SN, December 8) and Mr Khemraj Tulsie (‘Abolishing the death penalty should go to referendum,’ SN, December 17). Mr Pantlitz states that the EU is attempting to “bribe” or “bully” Guyana into abolishing the death penalty. Nothing could be further from the truth. The funding the EU is providing to Guyana is ringfenced and whether or not Guyana abolishes the death penalty will not change that. Any monies that would be granted to Guyana to help it abolish the death penalty ‒ if that were what Guyana were to decide ‒ would be technical assistance to make the necessary changes to its legislation. Such assistance was provided to Suriname when it abolished the death penalty earlier this year.
Mr Tulsie queries the financial cost of keeping prisoners incarcerated for lengthy periods compared to the cost of executing them. Aside from the moral implications of killing someone to save money, studies in the US have shown that the cost of the death penalty, including the long and complex judicial process and lengthy appeals processes, mean that sentencing to death is significantly more expensive than life imprisonment.
The recent conference on the abolition of the death penalty which was facilitated by the EU brought interested parties from a number of Caribbean countries together to provide a platform for them to analyse the death penalty so that these countries can decide for themselves. Mr Tulsie calls for public consultations and fully ventilating this issue – we agree, which is why we facilitated this public and open conference which was well advertised in advance and to which the public was invited. We are convinced that the arguments for the abolition of the death penalty are so compelling that any in-depth and objective consideration will logically lead to calls for its abolition. The EU lobbies all countries in the world ‒ whether the US, China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, or indeed Caribbean countries ‒ on the abolition of the death penalty because we consider the death penalty to be cruel and inhumane and that it raises serious human rights concerns; it does not deter crime; it generally targets the poor and marginalised and ethnic minorities; and it is irreversible if an executed person is subsequently found innocent (as happens in every judicial system).
Ambassador Jernej Videtic