Greater Caribbean for Life responds to the call for the resumption of the death penalty in the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago


By Greater Caribbean for Life and Emmanuel Trépied, on 21 July 2017

Although the last hanging took place on 28 July 1999, there has been, over the last few months, a renewed call for the resumption of hanging in Trinidad and Tobago. While GCL condemns the rise of violent crime in the Greater Caribbean region and expresses solidarity with victims, members reject the notion that capital punishment will act as a deterrent or foster respect for life. GCL is committed to promoting peace, respect for life, and good neighborliness as appropriate methods of reducing crime. This provides a more durable and effective solution than the taking of life.

With thousands of cases clogging up the system in Trinidad and Tobago, and with a detection rate of about 15% for homicide, the push to resume hanging fails to address the root causes of crime in the country, which is, with Barbados, one of the 2 countries of the Greater Caribbean region where the mandatory death penalty remains the law.

While the crime rate remains high in many of these countries, inadequacies in law enforcement and preventive measures hinder progress. There is a need to strengthen their criminal justice systems. GCL believes this can be achieved by:

·      improving their law enforcement agencies, their detection and conviction rates, their Forensic capabilities, and Court facilities; 

·      dealing with inordinate delays in the system due, for example, to Court backlogs and high case load;

·      developing and implementing effective witness protection programmes;

·       dealing with incompetence and corruption, for example, in some Police Forces.

Emotions on this issue should not cloud one’s judgment. The UNDP 2012 report rightly states that Trinidad and Tobago needs a better balance between legitimate law enforcement and prevention, with an emphasis on prevention. It also highlights the fact that the country needs more investment, for example in youth development, job creation and reducing poverty as well as socio-economic inequality. These strategies can contribute to a safer and more just society in the region.

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