Caribbean network fleshes out plans for abolition


By Emile Carreau, on 16 January 2014

A media release following the meeting reaffirms that the “ultimate goal of the GCL is to achieve the permanent abolition of the death penalty in each and every country of the Greater Caribbean as well as the creation of a culture of respect for the human right to life and the inherent dignity of all human beings”.

Targeting the English-speaking Caribbean

GCL chair Leela Ramdeen told that the network will focus on the English-speaking countries in the Caribbean.
Ramdeen said the network will encourage those countries “to at least abstain” during the next UN vote on a moratorium on the death penalty in December 2014. The text of the previous moratorium resolution calls on States that maintain the death penalty to establish a moratorium on the use of the death penalty with a view to abolition.
The majority of English-speaking countries in the Caribbean have voted against the four previous resolutions. Some even signed a note verbale of disassociation claiming that the death penalty is a domestic criminal justice issue rather than a human rights issue and that there is no clear consensus on the issue of the death penalty.
Whilst the Executive Committee will be doing its best to persuade the region of the merits of a moratorium, it is aware that it will be difficult to do so.
“We know that it is unrealistic to think that we will abolish the death penalty within the English-speaking Caribbean region in the near future,” Ramdeen said.
She added: “After the GCL was constituted, Chiara Sangiorgio from Amnesty International, Nicole Sylvester and I from GCL met Trinidad and Tobago’s Attorney General who made it clear to us that the Attorney Generals in the English-speaking Caribbean had met and agreed that their countries will not sign the moratorium.”

Ridding the region of the “scandalous” mandatory death penalty

The GCL network is also seeking “to encourage Trinidad and Tobago, and Barbados to remove the mandatory death penalty” as they are the only remaining countries with the “scandalous” punishment according to Ramdeen.
She observed that in her home country of Trinidad and Tobago, “we (are) hanging on to the death penalty without looking at the root causes for crime and identifying strategies that will really help and move our country forward”.

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