Indigenous constitutionalism and the death penalty: The case of the Commonwealth Caribbean

By Margaret A. Burnham / International Journal of Constitutional Law, on 1 January 2005

The Commonwealth Caribbean remains an obstinate holdout against the international trend limiting use of the death penalty. The death row population in the region per capita is about four times that of the United States. Widely debated in legal circles for a decade, capital punishment jurisprudence will be affected by the creation of the regional appellate court that was launched in April 2005. Modeled after the European Court of Justice, the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) will assume the constitutional jurisdiction currently exercised by the Judicial Committee of the London-based Privy Council. Critics claim the CCJ was created to undo the constraints on the death penalty decreed by the Privy Council and international human rights tribunals, while proponents maintain that the new court completes the region’s assumption of sovereignty. This article situates the debate in the constitutional history of the independence era, the current regionalization movement, and the interplay between international norms and domestic fundamental rights.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list Antigua and Barbuda