A report by Kim Boodram for Trinidad’s Express.
THE Greater Caribbean for Life (GCL) is asking Government to reconsider its efforts to resume hangings and to focus instead on human development and crime prevention.
The GCL stated in a new release Monday while it condemns rising lawlessness and violent crimes in Trinidad and Tobago, capital punishment will not stop crime.
The is a GCL is an independent, not-for-profit civil society organization, incorporated under the laws of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.
It was established in 2013 by activists and organizations from twelve Greater Caribbean, countries following an International Conference in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago.
The group said Monday it is in solidarity with victims of crime but that its members “reject the notion that capital punishment will act as a deterrent or foster respect for life in our communities”.
Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley stated last week that he supports the death penalty for murder, which is law in T&T but has been dormant for years.
Rowley revealed that Government has this year enlisted the guidance of former Attorney General Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj to bring back the hangman as soon as is legally possible. Maharaj in 1999 hanged former Piparo drug lord Dole Chadee and eight members of his gang and said last week he has provided Government with a document that outlines how he was able to activate the death penalty, and remain within the standards set by Pratt and Morgan.
However the GCL said with thousands of cases clogging T&T’s justice system and a detection rate of less than 10 per cent for homicide, the push to resume hanging fails to address the root causes of crime in this country.
The group said it is committed to promoting peace, respect for life, and good neighbourliness as appropriate methods of reducing crime in the Greater Caribbean region.
“This provides a more durable and effective solution than the taking of life,” the group stated.
The group further questioned what was being done to strengthen family life, rid the land of drugs and guns, eliminate violence in schools and promote restorative justice and a culture of nonviolence.
There must also be the promotion of respect for self and others, character development and good neighbourliness, the GCL said, as well as the speeding up of prison reform and rehabilitation processes.
The group quoted a number of international experts who disputed any notion that capital punishment acted as detrrent to crime and stated:
“Let’s not let our emotions on this issue cloud our judgment as to the best way forward. Years ago the late Lloyd Best stated that TT is in a state of pre-collapse. I know that he would hope that we would use our human ingenuity to meet the challenges that we face today.”