Submitted by Yardbroom
“The International Federation For Human Rights (FIDH) welcomed the Caribbean Court Of Justice first death penalty ruling given on Nov 8, 2006, which dismissed an appeal by the Barbados Government seeking to restore execution orders for two convicted murderers. The case was largely perceived as a test case of the new court’s position on the death penalty.”
“The CCJ is the Supreme judicial organ in the Caribbean community and replaces the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council since April 2005.”
The situation has changed since 2006, as this year it was reported that Barbados’ Deputy Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, who is also Attorney General announced that the mandatory death sentence will be abolished in Barbados. “This statement was made after the Inter-American Court of Human Rights had stated that the power to have the death sentence commuted by an executive body as is the current situation, is not the same as having the appropriate punishment determined by a competent court of Law”.
There we have Barbados’ position however an up date of the situation will bring differences and similarities into focus.
On the 26th November 2008, The Associated Press reported that the Jamaican Parliament voted to keep capital punishment by 34 votes for to 15 against.
Although the death penalty has been legal in Jamaica the courts have not used that punishment for almost 20 years. Why did the Jamaica Parliament voted as they did? The vote was against a background of a “soaring crime rate and an increase in crime against children ( including the disturbing cases of a girl who was beheaded and a boy whose body was found cut up in a trash can ) many people have demanded that courts start condemning people to death again”.
The director for Jamaican’s For Justice said: “The island with a population of 3 million people, already has had 1,240 murders so far this year, (2008) coming close to last year’s total of 1,400 in comparison, Chicago, which has a population of 2.8 million had 443 murders in 2007”.
The passing of time has not diminished Prime Minister Golding’s views on the undertaking he gave to the Jamaican people. As recently as July 10, 2009, The Daily News reported that Golding told a town hall meeting that his administration “is prepared to honour the “yes” vote taken by Parliament last year on the capital punishment issue.” He added:
“Once Parliament has taken that position, this government has given a commitment, that we are going to honour it. We are obliged by the resolution of Parliament he said.” I should add that the Jamaican House of Representatives voted to retain hanging, and the Senate did the same a month later.
Before I address the homicide rate for Barbados what is the CARICOM position? It was recently reported: “Trinidad and Tobago has the death penalty for murder. If a murderer has the death penalty, it’s very difficult to reconcile it with someone who committed genocide getting life in prison” argued a legal expert for one Caribbean nation, who spoke on condition of anonymity. He believed that to be a general CARICOM view.”
If that is the case how does that perceived CARICOM view square up with Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago and now Jamaica’s Positions.
What this does highlight is though our backgrounds – CARICOM nations – are similar in most cases, distance and time have allowed us to adopt different cultures and ways of doing things…and dare I say it behaving. What is suitable for Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica might not be necessarily so for Barbados. The idea that we are in CARICOM and a one size fits all is not possible. I have on purpose avoided mentioning Guyana…I will leave that for others.
The United Nations Survey on Crime Trends Homicides Rate for 2000 were:
- Barbados 7.49 per 100 000 population
- Jamaica 33.69 per 100 000 population
- The only countries with higher rates than Jamaica that year were:
- Swaziland 88.61 per 100 000 population ( In 2003 dropped to 13.05 and 2004 13.65 )
- Columbia 82.74 per 100 000 population.
- South Africa 51 per 100 000 population.
- For 2008 the murder rate in Barbados was 8.2 per 100 000 population.
It is obvious that Jamaica has a major problem with homicides and the Jamaican Prime Minister Bruce Golding seeks to address it the way he, the Jamaican House of Representatives, the Jamaican Senate and the Jamaican majority population think it should be addressed…democracy at work.
Should I or others interfere in the affairs of a sovereign state because it is a CARICOM member? or will that apply to certain issues for specific islands…no doubt there will be the usual silence. I take no position here on this issue, I have just given a factual account.