Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : September 17th 2015 Contents A5
Thursday, September 17, 2015 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
Chief Justice Ivor Archie has
called for a serious and meaningful
national debate on the mandatory
death penalty for murder.
He made the plea yesterday in his
annual address at the opening of the
2015/2016 law term at the Hall of
Justice, Knox Street, Port-of-Spain.
Pointing to statistics showing that
514 people are currently on remand
awaiting trial for murder, Archie
questioned the effectiveness of the
controversial sentence in the reduc-
tion of violent crime in T&T.
Archie said: "Apart from the dubi-
ousness of its value as a deterrent,
do we really believe, assuming that
a significant fraction of those persons
are found guilty, that we will be able
to hang several hundred people or
that, if we tried, we could stomach
it?"While he was careful to underscore
the Judiciary's neutral role on leg-
islative issues, Archie claimed the
Judiciary's input was necessary as it
was the "independent and apolitical"
organisation which is mandated to
execute the sentence.
"Please do not misunderstand me.
The question whether we have a
mandatory death penalty or any
death penalty at all is a matter for
the legislature and the people of T&T
but as the ones who pass the death
sentences, we must ask, is there a
sense in futility in doing so?
"And we must ask questions about
the tactical difficulties of implemen-
tation. What are we going to do?
Schedule one a day, or do it in
groups? So what is the real problem
and what can we do about it?" he
Archie's comments come hours
after the murder toll for 2015 crossed
the 300 toll on Tuesday after a 12-
year-old student was innocently
killed during a gang-related shooting
The last State-sanctioned execu-
tion took place in 1999 when Dole
Chadee and his gang of eight were
executed for the quadruple murders
of the Baboolal family. Another man,
Anthony Briggs, was also executed
that year for the murder of a PH taxi
Since then, legislation proposing
to categorise murders into first and
second degrees has been laid in Par-
liament and debated but was never
There has been a chorus of dissent
by some in society to move away
from the Privy Council, this country's
highest appellate court, in favour of
the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ)
after landmark rulings which deemed
the mandatory death penalty as
Archie echoed the sentiment yes-
terday as he called for serious con-
sideration of that issue by saying:
"Why we still have a highest appel-
late court that one cannot access
unless you are very rich or you are
charged with murder and someone
agrees to represent you for free."
In addition to the death penalty
and the CCJ, Archie also stated that
failure of the Prisons Service to reha-
bilitate offenders was also an area of
"So collectively we turn a blind
eye to harsh and inhumane prison
conditions when all the empirical
research tells us that there is a positive
correlation between a more humane,
restorative approach to incarceration
and lower rates of recidivism.
"The only punishment intended
by a custodial sentence should be
the deprivation of liberty," Archie
said as he revealed that it costs the
State $13,000 a month to incar-
cerate a prisoner.
He also took issue with the merits
of passing lengthy prison sentences
on convicted criminals.
"Common sense tells us that we
cannot incarcerate our way out of
our social problems and crime in
general because many studies inter-
nationally show a positive corre-
lation between longer sentences
and higher rates of recidivism as
well as between higher overall rates
of incarceration per capita and high-
er rates of recidivism," Archie said.
He also preached for the need of
converting T&T into a more secular
"Common sense tells me we
need more respect for fundamental
human rights because studies do
not support the notion that pro-
fessed adherence to any recognised
religion is associated with reduced
rates of violent crime. In fact, there
is a considerable body of evidence
to the contrary," Archie said.
As part of his continuous call to
citizens to adopt a common sense
approach when seeking solutions
to issues, Archie advised against
lumping blame for the country's
crime rate on his organisation.
"People need to stop blaming us
for those aspects of the justice sys-
tem that are outside our control.
We need a little common sense
"What can I do about low crime
detection rates or inadequate evi-
dence or no proper detention facil-
ities or slow forensic analysis or a
shortage of attorneys at the criminal
bar or prisoners arriving late for
court despite our admonitions?"
Although he admitted that most
of the issues raised by him during
his speech were highlighted by him
in the past, Archie suggested that
constant reminders may be the
impetus for eventual change.
"Those who have listened to my
past addresses may find that some
of what I have to say today may
sound repetitive but it has been my
experience that sound arguments
and exhortations often require rep-
etition before they are noted and
acted upon," Archie added.
See pages A10---A12
Cradling her grandson, Kaden, as she
rocked him gently, People's National
Movement (PNM) operation's officer
Irene Hinds yesterday promised to act
as a guardian angel to her daughter's
Her daughter, Kellane Hinds, died at
the Port-of-Spain General Hospital on
Monday hours after undergoing an emer-
Questioned about the matter yesterday,
Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh said
he had not yet been presented with the
facts in the case but a report was expected
to be completed within the next 24 to 48
Deyalsingh, who visited Hinds on Tues-
day, said then that once the hospital deliv-
ers its final report, the ministry would
conduct its own and to ensure that inter-
national guidelines were followed.
An investigation was launched after it
was reported that the woman had been
coughing up blood.
Her mother said the family was
informed her daughter had fluid in her
lungs and her blood might have started
Singing the hymn, I Would Love You
with the Love of the Lord, tears rolled
down Hinds' face as she gazed upon the
baby who remained asleep, secure in her
Standing outside the entrance of the
Maternity Department at the Port-of-
Spain General Hospital around 11 am yes-
terday, Hinds, who was accompanied by
family members and close friends of her
daughter, vowed to ensure the well-being
of her two grandchildren.
She said her daughter was the one who
chose the baby's name. Hinds pointed to
grand-daughter Kimora, who appeared
to be in good spirits, when she was asked
how the little girl was coping with her
Pressed to say what the autopsy results
had revealed, Hinds said they were
informed it was "pending histology."
Asked to explain what that meant, she
indicated she too was unaware.
She said her priority now was her two
grandchildren, Kaden and Kimora.
"I am going to take care of Kaden,
Kimora and bury Kellane on Friday," she
said, before leaving for her Cocorite home.
OTHER C-SECTION DEATHS:
• Keisha Ayers --- April ---
Mt Hope Women's Hospital.
• Sharlene Kowlessar --- April ---
San Fernando General Hospital.
After C-section death...
CJ: Death penalty not denting serious crime but...
Let's talk about it
Chief Justice Ivor Archie, right, waves to onlookers as he makes his way to the Hall of Justice, Knox Street,
Port-of-Spain during the ceremonial opening of the 2015-2016 Law Term yesterday. Also in the photo, at left,
is appeal court judge Allan Mendonca and other Supreme Court judges. PHOTO: ABRAHAM DIAZ
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