Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Don’t rush

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Barbados shouldn’t let itself be pressured into making a hasty decision on whether or not to resume hangings.
Parliamentarian Adriel Brathwaite, who has just completed a two-month stint as attorney-general, made this point to reporters yesterday during a break in a meeting of legal minds at Hilton Barbados.
Brathwaite took the position that in a number of cases the courts might have “gotten it wrong” in delivering a guilty-of-murder verdict, “so we shouldn’t rush to exact that ultimate penalty unless we are sure”.
“. . . There is always that possibility (of a mistake being made),” he added.
“But we have not made a determination, as Barbados, or as a region, whether or not we should have hanging (again) and, I dare say, we should not let it be imposed upon us by other forces.”
Barbados has not carried out a hanging for several years. Some people who had been on death row have had their sentences commuted to life.
The reprieve is in line with the 1990s ruling by a committee of the Privy Council in Britain that delays of five years and more in carrying out executions constitute cruel and inhumane treatment, contrary to some constitutions.
Coming against this background, the launch of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) to replace the Privy Council as the final court of appeal from civil and criminal decisions has come under some fire.
Some critics said Caribbean leaders wanted to use the CCJ as their own “hanging court” to counter what has become known as the Pratt and Morgan ruling.
However, Brathwaite dismissed the comment yesterday. He said he thought establishing the court “was the right thing to do (regarding) moving in terms of our development”.
“Even what we found or what we were finding is that lots of  decisions that came down from the House of Lords, that came down from the Privy Council, seemed not to have kept pace with our own development, in terms of what was happening in the Caribbean,” he added.
“I don’t understand why anyone would think that someone from outside the region could be better at determining our own destiny than ourselves.”
He said there had been no suggestions from the CCJ that it would end up being a “hanging court”.
He told reporters that Trinidad and Tobago had been “ambivalent” about the CCJ, but Minister of Justice Herbert Volney was now threatening to hang criminals publicly in Woodford Square,Port-of-Spain.

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