Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : March 27th 2017 Contents A10 news
guardian.co.tt Monday, March 27, 2017
The Constitution embodies the parameters within which we are governed as a people
but it is not cast in concrete.
Laws are passed by Parliament. The passage of times identifies good laws and bad laws,
.and it is the duty of our legislators to correct the anomalies when they are identified
Recent events have focused once more on the long-hanging issue of capital punishment,
and it is incumbent on our leaders to revisit this act of barbarism, sans emotion, sans
expedience -- financial or political.
The alternative to capital punishment is incarceration for life without parole. And "life"
must mean "life". Some will view this solution as more inhumane than death, but it
gives the opportunity for correcting a miscarriage of justice if and when it comes to light.
Recent DNA testing in a case in Texas, USA, some 14 years later belabours the point.
Some will say that keeping a prisoner in jail for life is a costly undertaking. But surely
our attitude cannot be "kill them because it is too expensive to keep them." The co-
gent reason for abolishing capital punishment are innumerable. I will attempt, in precise
form, to list some of the more obvious of them before identifying what is, to my mind,
the most compelling argument for abolition:
(1) "There is no more cruel tyranny than that which is perpetrated under the shield of
law and in the name of justice" (equally true today as when pronounced by Montesquieu
(2) Willfully "hanging by the neck until dead" is an act of barbarism. It finds a place in
the constitutions of many states as an act of religious fervor (extremism) or, alternatively,
as a base response to the "popular will" (politics).
(3) Capital punishment has never been a deterrent to murder - murders continue in
those countries where it is the prescribed penalty, and certainly not to a lesser
degree. (Those who commit these acts always expect to elude the law).
(4) The procedures for determining innocence or guilt are far from perfect as they rely
on a host of possible pitfalls:
(a) Circumstantial evidence.
(b) False witness.
(c) A jury swayed by emotions..
(d) The fact that interpretation of the law is very often subject to the legalistic
skills of the legal mind.
(e) The court battle is, on many occasions, one of gross inequality of advocacy.
(It is well to remember that one pays for one's court hearing -- whether the
state or the accused.
(f) The ever-present legal technicalities.
(g) Disease of the mind -- feigned or real, etc,etc,etc..
By these tokens it is not difficult to realise that many guilty persons have been "found
innocent" and, obviously, vice versa.
And this brings me to my main bone of contention.
It is by no means frivolous to ponder on the many recorded cases of miscarriages of
justice in the democracies around the world and the subsequent posthumous pardons --
admirable gestures, but grossly meaningless to the hapless few who have had to endure
the tremendous emotional trauma of being wrongfully accused and found guilty. And
when the penalty is the ultimate in man's existence.
Here in Trinidad and Tobago we have not been privy to this ultimate miscarriage of
justice. Is it because we lack truly investigative reporting? Is it because we have no
causes celebre Or is it because we must endure the slow process of social evolution?
In England, in 1812, there were 120 -- plus crimes for which the penalty was hanging;
one of these being stealing.
Today capital punishment in the UK no longer exists (except for treason?).
The penalty for murder in our country at this time is hanging.
And so the law must take it's course.
But surely, at the end of the day a government has a duty to educate and guide its people,
especially on issues in which emotions cause us to miss the woods for the trees.
DR. ROMESH MOOTOO
Former Mayor Of The City.
Attached is s copy of a letter to me from Sir Isaac Hyatali, a former Chief Justice +
23-03-17 CAPITAL PUNISHMENT IS AN ACT OF BARBARISM
Two friends start anti-crime drive
Citizens must not give up
Their hands held high showing the
peace sign, over a dozen people joined
Princes Town friends Keron Sarwan
and Damion Ramjattan on their first
anti-crime demonstration last Friday.
And hundreds more showed their support
by honking their horns, flicking their vehicle
lights and shouting words of encouragement to
the group as they stood behind sign boards for
almost three hours at the Palmyra and Tarouba
intersection in San Fernando.
The signs for the demonstration by the duo,
who called their action the Be the Change Move-
ment, had messages such as "Our women and
children are being brutally murdered", "Stop
Killing People!" and "Injustice everywhere is
a threat to justice everywhere."
The duo said they decided to hold the peace-
ful demonstration to raise awareness about the
seriousness of the spiralling crime affecting the
country last Wednesday, after they learnt of
the discovery of the body of Waterloo High
School student Jesse Beephan behind his
"Jesse's murder was a wake up call for me. I
have two young sons and I don't want to wait
until something like this comes home to me for
me to speak out," 32-year-old Ramjattan said.
"Yes, everyone knows about the murders but I
don't think they understand the extent to which
crime has taken over our country."
Although he said the demonstration was
non-political, Ramjattan said he would like
to see Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and
Opposition leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar
put aside their differences and try to come up
with a solution to the burgeoning crime rate.
Sarwan, 37, said he believes people have
become desensitised to brutal murders and
someone needs to raise awareness to the kind
of society T&T is becoming.
"We have to be on the look out for our women
and children, who are dying like flies, they are
being brutally murdered and no one is speaking
out," he said.
"Our goal is to educate people, but we also
want to show the criminals that we are not
giving up, we will not give in and let them get
the upper hand on us."
The men said they will be holding another
demonstration soon and will continue their
efforts until the crime rate goes down.
"Something has to give, we cannot continue
to live like this: always being in fear for our lives
and never feeling safe," Sarwan said.
Saleem Khan, 28, a mechanic at Toyota San
Fernando, was on his way home when he saw
the demonstration and decided to stop and
participate. He said although he has a busy
schedule and several cars lined up to fix on
Friday, he felt as though he was making a dif-
ference by participating.
"I was headed home but when I saw what
they are doing, I said I have to stop," Khan said.
"I feel like we are making a difference by
people just seeing us here and by showing
the public that someone cares enough to do
Antonio Toolsie also stopped on his way to
his Reform, Gasparillo home to take part in the
"I saw them and felt a great admiration for
what they are doing because although there
is a lot of talk every day, no one seems to be
doing anything," he said.
"I was surprised to see the kind of support
that we are getting here."
Members of the Be the Change Movement are acknowledged by drivers on the Tarouba Link
Road, Tarouba, last Friday. The group brought out signs to highlight the crime situation
plaguing the country. PHOTO: KRISTIAN DE SILVA
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