Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 11th 2013 Contents necessary, Ramlogan said, "The death penalty
does not apply to most serious crimes. It
does, however, apply to murder and the
murder rate is still high even though it is
on the decline."
With some polls on T&T showing a large
part of the population favouring hanging,
the AG was asked whether this can be
expected before the end of the term.
"We cannot implement the death penalty
without an amendment to the Constitution.
This requires a special majority in Parliament
for which Opposition support is necessary,"
"In Jamaica the opposition recently joined
forces with the government to vote to amend
the Jamaica constitution to facilitate the
implementation of the death penalty. We
can only live in hope."
With the situation in limbo, the AG added,
"The death penalty, part of our law, is what
we inherited from our colonial masters. The
Privy Council has ruled this is a valid part
of T&T's binding laws.
"Both the Opposition and People's Part-
nership have publicly declared their com-
mitment to the implementation of the death
penalty in response to the overwhelming
public support and demand for it."
The AG added, "There is no universal
consensus on the morality or correctness
of the death penalty. It forms part of the
laws and is in fact implemented in many
countries, including certain states in the
USA, Singapore and China."
Opposition PNM says....
Opposition PNM deputy leader Marlene
McDonald said the party stands by its posi-
tion in favour of the death penalty, but also
maintains its position against Government's
recent legislation on it.
PNM Senator Fitzgerald Hinds added,
"The death penalty issue is to me
more of an intellectual exercise more than
He said matters were often overturned at
Privy Council level since that jurisdiction
had abolished the death penalty.
"They engage arguments in a rigorous
exercise so it becomes a matter of their legal
wit against that of Caribbean attorneys," he
"So we have to be very intellectual in our
approach on this. When the Government
came with the last piece of legislation we
examined it thoroughly and found where
the Privy Council would have walked right
over the stipulations of the bill."
Hinds added, "We must now await what
new measures Government will present,
then see whether that can meet Privy Coun-
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Ramlogan added, "As the duly-elected government,
we're sworn to uphold and enforce the laws of this
land and therefore duty bound to facilitate and advance
its implementation as long as it remains on the books."
On the status of the Government's moves to try
and implement the law regarding hangings following
its 2012 plan for legislation to categorise murders,
Ramlogan said: "The Government did introduce a
bill to categorise murders and introduce some measure
of flexibility and discretion so that the death penalty
would not be automatically imposed in every case.
We were influenced in this regard by the American
jurisprudence which distinguishes murders according
to the particular facts and circumstances in which
the murder occurred (hence, for example, murder in
the first, second and third degree).
"Unfortunately, this bill was not passed because
the Opposition voted against it. The Government,
however, has no difficulty with the proposition that
the death penalty should be discretionary. We are,
however, equally committed and duty-bound to imple-
ment the law as it presently stands."
On whether the matter would be taken further, the
AG said soon after the debate, he wrote Opposition
leader Dr Keith Rowley several letters "in the hope
that we can have some meaningful dialogue on this
"Unfortunately, there was no response. The Oppo-
sition has managed to maintain the contradictory
position that it supports the death penalty but cannot
support or propose any legislation to facilitate its
implementation," Ramlogan said.
Since some quarters believe T&T, like other regional
states, may soon have to take the death penalty off
its books, where does T&T stand in this scenario?
Ramlogan said, "I believe the overwhelming majority
of the population favours the retention of the death
penalty. The murder rate is high and there are many
who believe in the principles of retention and deter-
"The Government is in favour of categorising mur-
ders so that the death penalty can be reserved for the
most extreme cases with the most brutal of heinous
murders. The Opposition objected to this and we
were forced to remove it from the proposed amend-
ment to the Constitution. This, however, remains the
Considering the 37 per cent reduction in serious
crime (from 2012 to 2013 figures), asked whether
Government still sees the death penalty as absolutely
THE MADRID MANDATE
CONGRESS TOPICS: include abolition
and alternative sentences in the world,
juveniles and the death penalty in the
world, drug trafficking and the death
penalty, legal representation in capital
cases globally, the Middle East, Iran,
African and Asian regions and the death
penalty, terrorism and abolition, the state
of abolition in the USA, Europe and future
strategies, death penalty and torture,
POLITICAL FIGURES EXPECTED:
President of Benin, Foreign Affairs
Ministers of Spain, France, Swiss
Confederation, Norway, Mauritania,
deputy prime ministers of Luxembourg
and Belgium, UN high commissioner for
human rights, the general secretary of the
Council of Europe, president of the
Commission of Human Rights of the Iraq
Parliament, president of the International
Commission Against the Death Penalty,
and the former French Justice minister,
who authored the French law that
abolished France's death penalty.
NOBEL PEACE PRIZE LAUREATES:
Northern Ireland peace activist Mairead
Maguire, former Iranian judge and
women's/human rights activist, Shirin
Ebadi, former East Timor president Jose
TESTIMONIES FROM: former death
row prisoners of Iran, Spain, Morocco,
Uganda, Taiwan, parents, spouses of
death row prisoners and the former death
row warden of the US state of Virginia.
Govt in favour of categorising murders
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