By Peter Richards
PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad (CMC) – St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves Monday urged CARICOM countries to use the death penalty as a deterrent to murders, saying they should not be afraid of the European Union (EU) withholding financial assistance to the region as a result.
In 1983, the Council of Europe adopted the first legally binding instrument providing for the unconditional abolition of the death penalty in peacetime, which is Protocol No. 6 to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). This text is currently ratified by all 46 member states.
Germany, for example, is against capital punishment under any circumstances and, together with partners around the world, is resolutely campaigning for its abolition.
Gonsalves, a Roman Catholic, who said both his mother and the Pope were wrong in denouncing the use of the death penalty as a deterrent to murder, insisted that it should be used for murder.
“I know the Europeans do not like that. They had it for a long time and they may not want to give aid to bring it back and so on and so forth.
“But I am satisfied being a legal practitioner for many years that most of the people who did killings are cowards. Never mind this macho thing which they present they are absolute cowards,” Gonsalves told a round table discussions involving other CARICOM leaders on the opening day of the two-day regional symposium on “Violence as a Public Health Issue–The Crime Challenge” being hosted by the Trinidad and Tobago government.
“If we have that as a particular option in the punishment schedule for the courts not to make it very well near impossible to carry out the death penalty. What I am talking here, people in the taverns across Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados and so on are talking these things”.
Gonsalves also noted that “too many of our judges and our magistrates are too soft. Sometimes you get the impression that some magistrates, depending on who is the lawyer, their people seem to get a better treatment … everybody talks about this, but they talking about it behind closed doors,” said Gonsalves, who is also a lawyer.
“You don’t hear it from a prime minister. Well, let us begin to talk about these things too. All of these matters touch and concern how we are going to address this question (of crime and violence),” he added.
Gonsalves, the longest-serving head of government in the 15-member regional integration movement, said Caribbean countries have “put a lot of resources into the police, into crime fighting, into the judiciary … and more money ought to be put as we have to do some of the things regionally and we have to update our laws making sure that when we update our laws (they) are reasonably required … and justifiable in a democratic society.
“I am not calling for any totalitarian measure. I am not calling for that. But there is in aspects of our judiciary a creeping lack of awareness as to some of the problems which we face.
“How can you give somebody who is charged for murder bail? Let’s be serious. How can you do that,” Gonsalves asked, adding “where those judges live? On Mars?
He said he is hoping that the symposium would be the stepping stone for the establishment of a comprehensive set of packages to deal with the crime situation, hoping also for “an action plan with things which we can do regionally, things we have to do nationally.
“We have a common position on what we can do nationally so that we can get rid of a lot of the opportunism which we get in dealing with the issue of crime”.
Gonsalves told the round table discussion he does not accept the argument that the causes of violent crime “reside in the economistic sphere.
“I don’t accept that at all. If in fact that was the reason or the central reason, we would have had more murders or more violent crimes in the 1990s, 1930s, 40s and 50s coming all the way up when you have far more opportunities today and less poverty today and greater wealth today than you had in the 1930s and 1940s.”
He said also he was not of the opinion that people kill one another because they are frustrated, adding “if you are frustrated with life or living you will kill yourself and I note … in all the countries of the Caribbean with the possible exception of Guyana, we have among the lowest rate per thousand persons for suicide.
“So, if you are really frustrated, we should be killing ourselves more, individually, commit suicide, we don’t kill other people,” he said, adding there were lots of different answers to people committing murders.
He said most serious and violent crimes are committed by young males with most of them coming from broken homes or dysfunctional homes.
Gonsalves said these young people are school dropouts or have failed to take advantage of the opportunities to better equip themselves for survival.
Is now you really noticing crime need a different structure of what bein goin on for the past 20 years
People remember elections coming up in a few years time, you all will see and hear a lot of HOT air from the man, the death penalty is always there, but to use it there are HURDLES to get over, for example the man HAVE TO GET PERMISSION FROM THE PRIVACY COUNCIL WHICH WILL NOT BE APPROVED , SO DON’TLET HIM FOOL YOU ALL,
Did any of these other so call leaders inquire from the Svg pm where he did his research and who exactly did he consult with, if he was the one buying the drinks in the rum shop and if as usual he was the only one talking?
We have to haveb that discussion
There was a dractic reduction in the crime rate when Dole Chadde and his henchmen were hang. What does that tell you? There is a positie correlation between the deth penalty and the crime rate. Case closed , hang them.
Yes, the death penalty should include
accused rapist also.
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