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Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves. (iWN file photo)
Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves. (iWN file photo)

Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves does not support corporal punishment for criminals.

“In fact, even for children, I am not a corporal punishment man. So you are talking to the wrong person for that. I don’t think you should have corporal punishment in schools.”

He made the point to journalists this month when asked to comment on a lawyer’s suggestion to the court that a petty thief be whipped as punishment.

“I don’t support that,” Gonsalves said.

At the Kingstown Magistrate Court earlier this month, Senior Magistrate Rickie Burnett and lawyers at the bar table, who were not involved in the case, tried to determine an appropriate punishment for a petty thief.

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Rillan Hill resident, Kendall “Dumpling” Moses was at the time being sentenced after he pleaded guilty to stealing a bottle of strong rum from Randy’s Supermarket in Kingstown.

Asked to comment on sentencing, lawyer Grant Connell said that eight strokes from a particularly strong police officer might set the defendant right.

He said that whenever Moses thinks of stealing in the future, he would remember the lashes and be deterred.

But the magistrate noted that there was a public outcry when he floated such an idea earlier this year, and rejected the lawyer’s suggestion.

In the conversation with reporters, the prime minister, who is also minister of Legal Affairs, dismissed the lawyer’s suggestion, saying that Connell was “kicksing” (joking).

He, however, noted that the law provides for lashes for offenders who are less than 16 years told.

The prime minister said he does not support lashes for either adults or minors.

“There are other sentencing tools which you have,” he said.

He noted that during consultations on an education related law some years ago, “the Teachers’ Union was very strong –they wanted to keep beating people’s children.

“Now, I believe there are other ways in which you can discipline a child. That’s my view. But the teaching profession, largely, I suspect they would come around and change their view.

“I know the view I am expressing here might very well be minority view in the country. But it doesn’t matter me whether it is a minority view or not a minority view. You ask me my view and I tell you.”

The prime minister, who turns 72 on Aug. 8, spoke of his personal experience, having received lashes as a child.

“There are people who will tell me, ‘But you didn’t get a lot of licks. I say, ‘Yes, I got licks.’

“‘And you ain’t turn out bad.’

“‘I say, well, I didn’t turn out bad but I mighta turn out better if I didn’t get the licks,” the prime minister said and laughed.

He added: “So it is an argument which you can go in circles with it. I believe that you [can] deny children privileges and talk to them and so on and so forth.”

7 replies on “PM against corporal punishment for petty criminal”

  1. Corporal punishment is barbaric. There are other ways of punishing petty criminals. Community service is one example that come to mind. Well done PM

  2. Monica Williams says:

    The six lashes in the palm of our hands, or over our back didn’t kill us, they created fear that lead to respects.

  3. I, alike the Prime Minister; “does not support ‘corporal punishment’ for juvenile criminals. Just the thought of ‘strokes’ (flogging) is a rejuvenation of slavery and exactly that which was used, the reason why it had become so prevalent within our schools.

    We the baby boomers have been overambitious in ensuring that our children are given a much better quality of life than we had; and in doing so, have provided them many privileges which they have taken for granted. On acknowledging the fact and with a non-discriminatory approach in achieving the best for those unfortunate juveniles, there cannot be a standard punishment for all juvenile criminals but; one design and set out according to the courts assessment of each juvenile habituated privilege.

    I however agree that the punishment to “deny children of privileges and talk to them” along with community work assignments linked to those of the adult prisoners; along with counseling for a few years, can bring positive impacts to these juvenile criminals.

    To say that the PM “ain’t turn out bad” all depends on the prospective to which bad and good are measured by any particular individual and his/her perception, standards and expectations. Lol.

  4. well A browne if croporal punishment is barbaric is not that the way 2 deal with people who commit barbaric crimes .

    1. I quite agree. Our island is becoming like Jamaica. There must be some sort of deterrent that will make our people , especially the young, refrain from committing crime. Petty criminals graduate into murderers, thieves and rapist and terrorists. Governments should forget about politics and deal with these matters once and for all. Vincentians want their safety and island back.

  5. What is the news here? Now Friday should say that he doesn’t support stoning. LOL. Give news-reporters work to do. Lord help my poor little island, God help us all.

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